Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

HBC, Shoppers workers lose jobs

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TORONTO -- Two major Canadian retailers, Hudson's Bay Co. and Shoppers Drug Mart, have announced job cuts amid major competitive and regulatory changes in the marketplace.

Retailing giant HBC said Friday it is laying off 210 employees in Toronto as the company moves its information services department to the United States in a move to slash spending.

Shoppers (TSX:SC) confirmed it will cut 80 jobs -- some at the head office and others at regional offices -- as it looks for ways to offset the effect of generic drug reform in several provinces to its bottom line.

HBC spokeswoman Tiffany Bourre said 130 jobs from the Canadian information services department will go to an office in St. Louis, Missouri, which will become the headquarters for its information services. Another 80 jobs will be eliminated. The layoffs will happen in the next 12 to 18 months.

Bourre added the move is part of a plan to adjust its operations now that the Canadian Zellers chain is being phased out both through the takeover of some locations by U.S. retail giant Target Corp. and the closure of most of its remaining stores.

"Since the acquisition of the majority of Zellers locations by Target, we have been adjusting our operations," she said in an email.

The layoffs come on top of the thousands of Zellers employees who will lose their jobs as the firm shutters the majority of its stores, many of which will convert to Target stores.

Target purchased the leasehold interests of 189 sites operated by Zellers Inc. and it says about $10 million to $11 million will be invested to remodel each facility.

Target has said only Zellers employees would be encouraged to apply for jobs at their stores, but a Zellers employees' union has launched the Target Fairness campaign to raise awareness about Target's failure to commit to take on Zellers workers.

Meanwhile Shoppers Drug Mart has faced an onslaught of changes brought in last year in Ontario, Quebec and B.C. that cut generic drug prices to 25 per cent of the price of patented drugs -- down from 50 per cent. The company has said those reforms affect revenue by an estimated $750-million a year.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 6, 2012 B4

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