Thursday, July 25, 2019

I'll Feel Less Safeway.

In 2013 the Sobeys grocery chain acquired Safeway's Canadian stores.  I'm sure I was not the only one surprised when instead of rebranding them all Sobeys kept a large percentage in operation as Safeways.  (23 stores had to be sold off as part of the merger agreement.)  But now we are going to see a rebranding of some.  In Saskatoon's case 3 of the existing Safeways will be converted to the Sobey's run FreshCo branding.  FreshCo is the Sobeys equivalent of the Loblaw budget No Frills stores.  Sobeys says FreshCo stores will replace "underperforming" Safeway stores, with construction taking place in Saskatoon early next year.

The 3 stores to be converted in Saskatoon are at Market Mall, Confederation Mall, and on 33rd Street.  I only go into the 33rd Street store once in a blue moon, but I'm not surprised about the Confederation Mall store, since that mall as a whole underperforms.  Market Mall has the problem that its located in the middle of what is supposedly the oldest per capita population in Canada, the area having a large number of older residents in seniors housing.  Some of them buy little or no groceries, so it's hard to see how lower prices will change that.  One thing all three stores share is that they're smaller than the other two Safeway stores in Saskatoon, making them more suitable for a budget branding.

As for the other two Safeway stores the only thing I can imagine happening to them in the foreseeable future would be a conversion to the Sobeys branding.  The Mall at Lawson Heights store is brand new, having replaced the old Safeway space in the same mall last year, while the McOrmond Road Safeway is only a few years old.  The Lawson Safeway would need little more than some new paint and signs to become a Sobeys, as it has pretty much the same layout as recently built Sobeys stores.  The McOrmond store would need more work, unless of course they just changed the appearance.

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