STELLARTON, Nova Scotia—In the grocery chain wars, East eats West.
East coast Sobeys has purchased West coast Safeway’s 213 stores, President and CEO Paul D. Sobey said via a news release.
In an interesting twist, the originally negotiated price of $5.8 billion was unexpectedly reduced when Mr. Sobey swiped his Safeway Club card during the purchase.
“It was just meant as a bit of fun. I had no idea it would actually work,” Sobey said, referring to the checkout ritual. “I had the $5.8 billion on me, so I figured ‘Why not? I could use the points.'”
It turns out that the grocery chain’s inventory, real estate, and personnel were marked down under the categories of produce, general merchandise, and meat, respectively. After savings, the total due was reduced to $4.5 billion. At press time, the labour union representing Safeway employees was considering action in response to the company’s internal categorization of its employees as meat.
Sobey was noncommittal when asked whether layoffs would result from the merger.
“We’re keen to retain Grade-A personnel. At this point we need to meet with each person affected and evaluate them individually,” Sobey explained. “Some may be reaching their best before date. Some may be already expired.”
He anticipates that appraisals will be conducted this fall, prior to formal completion of the amalgamation.
“The consumer stands to benefit in any case,” he continued. “Those that remain will be the very best and brightest of our company, and those that are not will be marked down at extraordinary savings.”
Mr. Sobey warns that in the event of closeouts, stock levels will vary by store and quantities are not guaranteed. Those interested in purchasing surplus and discontinued employees are encouraged to call the manager of their local Safeway for price and availability no later than October 1.