As reported here, Save on Foods is coming to Winnipeg. Billionaire Jimmy Pattison (who owns the grocer among other holdings) announced three locations and more to come at the former Zellers at Northgate Shopping Centre. Around a thousand people came to here Pattison and his execs in person talk about the west coast grocer moving into the Winnipeg market with possibly 12 stores.
Any why not? The U.S. owners of Safeway tucked tail and ran back to the U.S, and sold their interests to Sobey’s. The government forced a bare minimum of stores to be sold in the interests of competition but did nothing about all of the warehousing and manufacturing that Safeway had in the west. Subsequently, Winnipeg has been hit hard by Safeway lay-offs. The ice cream plant and now the enormous distribution plant on King Edward/Route 90 are being closed and a few hundred employes shown the door.
The only reason that Sobey’s has probably not shut down even more Safeway stores is that they were possibly nervous that Co-Op might pick up even more than the four stores they have now. Now they have even more to contend with now that Save On Foods has come to town.
In addition to the Northgate Shopping Centre where part of the old Zellers will become a store, Save on Foods will be building a store from the ground up in the Bridgwater Centre area of Waverley West and at the old Future Shop location on St. James street opposite Polo Park. All stores should come on street sometime in the fall of this year.
The conversion of the old Future Shop on St. James is a brilliant stroke as it comes on the heels of all the roadwork to improve access. A very large Safeway and Real Canadian Superstore are close by but this store will be the closest to Polo Park than any other grocer.
The move into the Bridgwater Centre is a real coup because it is totally new and the shoppers will be totally new. An entire population is developing around the area and their local store won’t be Safeway, Sobey’s or Co-Op. It will be a Save on Foods.
Save on Foods is likely going to need a distribution center of their own as they continue their growth of possibly 20 stores in Manitoba and the same in Saskatchewan.
There will be hundreds of jobs created with the arrival of Save on Foods. The biggest plus though is that competition between grocers will be keen and that can only be good for everyone in Manitoba.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations