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This article was published 15/11/2018 (340 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
And then there were none, so far as Extra Foods grocery stores go.
Winnipeg's last Extra Foods will close next year and be converted into a No Frills discount grocery store, Loblaws Inc. has announced.
The Extra Foods on St. Anne's Road in the Southglen Shopping Centre will be the fifth and last Extra Foods in Winnipeg to undergo the conversion.
The move reflects the trend of big grocers to move into discount retail. Sobeys Inc. announced in July it will convert Safeway stores on McPhillips St. and Regent Ave. into its FreshCo brand.
The Southglen outlet will be the seventh No Frills in Manitoba. In Winnipeg, Loblaws previously converted Extra Foods stores on Main St., Notre Dame, Roblin and Goulet to No Frills. It also closed an Extra Foods on Regent Ave. in 2016.
"We were anticipating this would be coming down the pike," said Jeff Traeger, president of United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 832.
"The company told us a few years ago they were looking to move out of that banner and convert most of those stores to No Frills."
No Frills is what it says. There is no deli, bakery, floral department, or customer service, and typically no pharmacy but headquarters has made an exception with the Southglen outlet. The pharmacy will continue to operate during renovations and in the newly remodelled No Frills. (Headquarters also made an exception by keeping the pharmacy in the conversion of Extra Foods to No Frills in Dauphin.)
No Frills are usually smaller stores. Superstores are 110,000 to 120,000 square feet, whereas No Frills can be as small as 20,000 square feet.
There are also fewer cashiers at a No Frills. A Superstore can have 30 or 40 tills, versus eight or nine in an Extra Foods. A No Frills has three or four, Traeger said.
The No Frills will include no-name and President's Choice products.
They don't have the same selection, however. Instead of four or five different kinds of tomato soup, they may just have just one brand the store obtains at the cheapest price.
"(No Frills) is popular in other provinces. Manitoba has fewer No Frills stores than other provinces because this union took them on at the bargaining table and said there have to be some rights for people when these conversions happen," Traeger said.
Loblaws didn't open its first No Frills stores in Manitoba until 2014. By that time, Ontario already had 100 and Alberta had 75, and the discount grocer was in every province.
"The market seems to be growing faster (for discount grocery stores) than other markets," said Traeger.
"The good news is nobody loses their job" at the St. Anne's Rd. location, said Traeger.
There is a large wage gap between what employees are paid at Extra Foods compared to No Frills.
The top rate at Extra Foods is just under $18 per hour for full and part-time employees who stock shelves or work as cashiers, versus $15.40 for full-time staff at No Frills, and $13.20 for part-time.
However, the collective bargaining agreement negotiated in 2013 provides protections.
The senior one-third of employees have the option to continue working at the No Frills at their Extra Foods wages and benefits.
Other staff can keep their pay rate if they choose to bump into a Superstore. That is usually the most popular option, Traeger said.
All employees have the option of taking a buyout. For full-time employees, that is four weeks pay per year worked up to a maximum of $75,000, while part-timers have a maximum buyout of $15,000.
Head office wouldn't confirm the timeframe for the changeover but Traeger believes Extra Foods will close in April and open a few months later in summer after renovations are completed.
In that interim period, staff get to work at different Loblaws store locations.
There is more part-time work at No Frills stores. In the collective bargaining agreement, at least 11 per cent Loblaws workers must be full-time but that provision doesn't apply to No Frills.
Superstores and Extra Foods are owned corporately by Loblaws, whereas No Frills are owned by a franchisee.
The only remaining Extra Foods stores in Manitoba are in Swan River and The Pas. The Extra Foods store in Selkirk changed to No Frills and has been open for about a month.
Bill Redekop has been covering rural issues since 2001.