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Discount retailer expands westward

Empire Co. Ltd. has announced the locations of six additional FreshCo store investments in British Columbia as part of its discount format expansion into western Canada. The announcement follows five successful FreshCo openings in B.C. and Manitoba earlier this spring. empire

In fiscal 2018, the company shared plans to expand FreshCo into the west by converting approximately 25 percent of its underperforming Safeway and Sobeys locations over a five-year period.

“Western Canada is responding extremely well to our smaller box discount format,” said Michael Medline, president and chief executive officer of Empire. “We’ve been hyper-focused on selecting the right locations for FreshCo stores and are converting poorly performing Safeway and Sobeys stores. Opening FreshCo stores in these locations is allowing us to not only leverage existing real estate within our network, but also win market share we simply couldn’t compete for in the past.”

The company opened its first FreshCo in western Canada in Mission, BC, on April 25, quickly followed by two store openings in Winnipeg on May 2. Two additional FreshCo stores opened in Richmond, BC, on May 16 and a further two stores will open in Surrey, BC, in July 2019.

“Customer response to our first five FreshCo locations in B.C. and Manitoba has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Mike Venton, general manager of discount. “Discount is the fastest growing retail segment and we’re now participating in a meaningful way in western Canada, providing customers with more choice and market leading low prices. Customers have been very excited about our international product offering and easy-to-shop store format and we’re ready to continue building on our progress in B.C. and Winnipeg.”

The six future FreshCo store locations are expected to open in spring 2020, depending on the timing of construction schedules and permits.