Stellarton – Empire Company Limited announced on Wednesday that it is moving forward with plans to convert up to 25 per cent of its 255 Safeway and Sobeys full service format stores in Western Canada to its discount FreshCo banner over the next five years.
“This is a very attractive strategic and financial opportunity for us that will grow our market share in the Western provinces in a profitable way,” said President and CEO Michael Medline. “Our comprehensive research and analysis shows that the West is fertile ground for ‘small box’ discount and that our FreshCo banner will resonate with consumers in Western Canada.”
The FreshCo stores in Western Canada will showcase evolved branding, product offering and customer marketing to reflect the company’s learnings in Ontario, according to a release from the company. A number of locations will provide an enhanced ethnic offering that has been successfully introduced in the Ontario market.
“This expansion is one piece of a comprehensive strategy to execute the transformation of our company through Project Sunrise, greatly improve our conventional offering, bolster our brand and grow our industry- leading market share in ecommerce,” Medline stated.
In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, Empire launched Project Sunrise, a comprehensive three-year transformation intended to simplify the organizational structure and reduce costs. As a result hundreds of employees were laid off including approximately 100 in Stellarton.
Empire expects the changes to result in approximately $500 million in annualized cost savings by fiscal 2020.
For the quarter, ending Nov. 4, Empire recorded adjusted net earnings, net of non-controlling interest, of $73.9 million ($0.27 per diluted share) compared to $32.9 million ($0.12 per diluted share) in the second quarter last year, an increase of approximately 125 per cent.
“Our second quarter results were another step on our journey to revitalize Empire Company,” said Michael Medline, President and CEO. “We grew same-store sales and margins while continuing to maintain our focus and discipline on cost control. Our progress is particularly encouraging as we begin to reap the benefits of Project Sunrise, fortify our brand and customer experience, and grow our company.”