While still early on in the process a recent buyout offer for Canada Safeway isn’t likely to present any changes for local shoppers or employees.
The Sobeys grocery chain, which owns retail properties under the brand names Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, Thrifty Foods, FreshCo, Lawtons Drugs, and Price Chopper has put forward a $5.8-billion offer for Canada Safeway in order to expand its market into western Canada.
“We just announced the acquisition last week and it is now with the Competition Bureau for regulatory review,” said Andrew Walker, Sobeys vice president of Communication and Corporate Affairs.
“We’ll wait for the Competition Bureau review and the deal to close sometime this fall then we’ll look to make decisions around stores and branding at that time. We did the acquisition because we want the Safeway stores and we want to keep as many as we can. That’s why we went into this.”
Local Safeway store manager, Jamie Simpson, says that he doesn’t really know any more about what the takeover might mean than anyone else.
“All I’ve really seen was what was in the press release,” Simpson said. “It looks like all employees should be staying and there’s no plan to close any stores.”
The Sobeys chain, a wholly owned subsidiary of Empire Co., is currently the second largest retail grocer in Canada, after Loblaw, and primarily has stores throughout eastern and central Canada, reaching into Manitoba and Alberta.
The acquisition of Canada Safeway, which operates more in western Canada, will give it 213 additional stores from Thunder Bay, Ontario to British Columbia.
Trail native, Bill McEwan, began his career in the retail food industry at Ferraro Foods (formerly SuperValu,) retired as CEO of Sobeys last year but said in an email it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on the company’s current business.