|Price Chopppers on Stafford|
In all the speculation who would pick up the stores few people thought that all five would go to Winnipeg-based businesses. As has been widely reported Red River Co-Op of Winnipeg has taken over the four Safeways that were on offer and will convert them into Co-Ops. We should see sign changeovers before the end of the year.
The question of what would happen to Price Choppers was left till just recently. I had speculated based on evidence in other provinces that Sobey's might convert the store into a Freshco but it never happened in advance of takeover. Some lamented that the store may never find an owner and it would close.
Still, as the shake-up of Safeway being absorbed by Sobey's and Red River Co-op taking over four Safeway locations, rumours floated about what would happen with Price Choppers. In no particular order this is what was heard: An Asian grocery store will buy the place! Deluca's is kicking the tires. Think someone said it will become a Giant Tiger.
Those that said Giant Tiger were not all wrong. In fact what was happening was that Giant Tiger's owner Northwest Company was seriously thinking of adding the store to the nine stores and distribution center already in the city. In the end, the Winnipeg-based Northwest Company decided to keep the Price Choppers brand and make no changes in staff or format. In short, it was a big win for those people who found the store to be unique in the city.
The fall out from Sobey's buying Safeway will result in job losses. It already has in Winnipeg's case. For some reason the Competition Bureau did not make Sobey's divest of some of the manufacturing plants and distribution warehouses. The Lucerne plant for cheese and ice cream closes this summer on Kind Edward putting 50 well paid workers on the unemployment line. One wonders if Co-Op might have bought that as well if it had been offered.
There are a number of Sobey's directly across the street from a Safeway even now. What will become of them? Case in point: Kenaston at McGillivary. There are two stores directly facing one another.
Some keen eyed flyer readers have probably noticed that Safeway's flyer has changed to something looking more like a Sobey's flyer. This coincided with Safeway's Club Card being dropped in favour of the discount given to all shoppers. It was reported that the discount was extended to more products too. It might be hard to notice though as food prices are up everywhere due to poor weather in several areas of the world.
For the time being, Safeway continues to promote Airmiles. Things could get complicated as Sobey's is aligned with Aeroplan. This state of affairs probably won't continue when the Safeway name comes down.
As Spring rolls into summer, we are likely to hear quite a few more changes in terms of grocery stores. There is no doubt though that keeping Price Choppers a Price Choppers serves the interests of Winnipeg shoppers. Having a large Winnipeg corporate patron keeps the store strong. Likewise, Red River Co-Op's re-entry in the grocery market places another strong Winnipeg company in the forefront of serving the city.
Safeway, we miss you. But you turned tail as soon as Target entered the market.