A typical Sobeys grocery store. The chain is based in Nova Scotia but is buying Canada Safeway's outlets

Sobeys to buy up Safeway grocery stores

East coast grocer hasn't decided if it will keep the Safeway name or reflag stores

Canada Safeway stores in B.C. have a new owner.

Nova Scotia-based supermarket firm Sobeys, itself owned by Empire Company, is buying the Safeway chain’s 213 Canadian stores for $5.8 billion.

The deal with Safeway Inc. also includes numerous in-store pharmacies, gas stations, liquor stores and other distribution or manufacturing facilities across western Canada.

Sobeys hasn’t yet decided if it will keep the Safeway name or reflag the stores under one of its brands.

Sobeys already has a presence in B.C. through its IGA and Thrifty Foods brands.

Adding Safeway’s 75 B.C. stores will give Sobeys 107 outlets in this province. That compares to 101 for Overwaitea Food Group, 84 for Loblaws, 25 Walmarts and 14 Costcos.

The change of ownership may also mean changing product lines for customers who continue to frequent the stores, as well as possibly different loyalty card systems.

Both Sobeys and Safeway offer Air Miles reward points but the new operators indicated they will move to eliminate separate loyalty programs.

Big supermarket chains face growing competition as other retailers add groceries to their shelves.

“This is a significant and historic event for Sobeys, which has been proudly serving Canadian food shoppers for 106 years,” Empire president Paul Sobey said.

He called the acquisition an “excellent strategic fit” that strengthens the chain presence in Western Canada, and leverages its existing assets to better compete.

Empire officials intend to sell off Safeway stores’ real estate holdings and lease the properties back.

The planned purchase is subject to Competition Bureau approval.

Not everyone’s likes the deal.

Some shoppers posting on Canada Safeway’s Facebook page were critical of Sobeys, while others on Twitter doubt the takeout of a major grocery player will benefit consumers.

“Get ready for higher prices and less competition,” tweeted Vancouver’s Pete Quily.

Just Posted

Spartan grad shines at NCAA Div-II swimming nationals

Jessie Gibson earned All-American status in four events and smashed Simon Fraser team records.

Third ice sheet proposed for Twin Rinks addition project

Council is considering $8M proposal this week from shortlisted proponent

Greg Moore Raceway rolls into 2018 season

With new faces on the board, Chilliwack’s hidden gem is ready to step into the spotlight.

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

CRA scam the email edition targeted the Mounties in Chilliwack

Fraudsters claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency but the CRA never operates this way

VIDEO: NatureKids “critterscape” at Cheam Lake Wetlands

A group of children helped keep invasive species in check at the local park

Spring snow melt uncovers dirty needles in B.C. city

Vernon residents are upset with number of needles being found around town with spring melt

US would host majority of games at 2026 World Cup

A decision on the winning bid will be made June 13 at the FIFA Congress in Mexico

‘A perfect storm’: Gas prices could hit $1.60 by April, expert says

Prices will shoot up to 155.7 cents a litre by end of week or early next week

Most people in B.C. too ‘lazy,’ ‘apathetic’ to prepare for disasters: poll

Less than half of those surveyed aren’t insured for earthquakes and wildfires

Chris Hemsworth goes surfing in Tofino

The Australian actor donned a full body wetsuit to catch some waves on Vancouver Island this weekend

B.C. hospitals receive boost for dental surgery

Disabled people needing general anesthetic wait too long, Adrian Dix says

BCHL Today: Wenatchee Wild on the ropes and Smoke Eaters reeling

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

5 to start your day

Kinder Morgan protests heat up, a horse rescued from a muddy field and more

Most Read