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01/25/2021

Empire to open seven more FreshCo stores

Grocery company continues to expand its discount banner out West and reaches a milestone in the process

Empire has announced the next Safeway-to-FreshCo conversions.

Seven Safeway locations--six in Alberta and one in Northern Ontario--will reopen under the company's FreshCo discount banner in the second quarter of fiscal 2022, the company said in a press release.

In 2017, Empire Company announced it would expand FreshCo into Western Canada through the conversion of around 25% of its 255 Safeway and Sobeys full-service stores.

With this announcement, the Stellarton, N.S.-based grocery company has confirmed 37 of approximately 65 FreshCo locations planned for Western Canada. There are currently 22 FreshCo stores up and running across British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Empire has committed to opening 10 to 15 FreshCo stores in fiscal 2021 as part of Project Horizon, a three-year growth strategy it launched last year. This includes four stores in Manitoba, three in Alberta and one store in Saskatchewan.

"Empire's discount network has grown 23% since we opened our first store in the West only two years ago," said Mike Venton, general manager, discount. "We are committed to delivering market share growth through Project Horizon; Alberta is ripe with opportunity for Empire to compete with a strong discount offering. We are now more than half way through our FreshCo expansion in Western Canada."

Empire said the combined closure costs related to the seven conversions were "estimated to be approximately $11.7 million before tax and will be charged to earnings in the third quarter of fiscal 2021."