The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Sobeys store closures will stretch until fall, says company document

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TORONTO - Sobeys says plans to close about 50 underperforming grocery stores across the country have already begun, and is expected to stretch until late this year.

An internal document obtained Friday by The Canadian Press outlines which stores are scheduled to close and when the lights will go dark at each location.

"The majority of the stores are closing because they have consistently underperformed and are no longer financially viable," said Chuck Mulvenna, president of Safeway's operations at Sobeys in a letter to employees.

Sobeys' parent company Empire Co. (TSX:EMP.A) is trying to squeeze savings from its operations after the acquisition of Safeway in Canada last year for $5.8 billion and heightened competition in the grocery industry.

About 60 per cent of the closures will be Sobeys locations located in Western Canada. Some of the stores will close in July, others haven't slated a date yet to wind down operations.

"Exact closure dates are still being finalized, however, the stores will not close before fall 2014," Mulvenna said.

Sobeys representatives declined to comment on how many employees would be affected by the closures.

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