A typical Sobeys grocery store. The chain is based in Nova Scotia but is buying Canada Safeway's outlets

Sobeys to buy up Safeway grocery stores

East coast grocer hasn't decided if it will keep the Safeway name or reflag stores

Canada Safeway stores in B.C. have a new owner.

Nova Scotia-based supermarket firm Sobeys, itself owned by Empire Company, is buying the Safeway chain’s 213 Canadian stores for $5.8 billion.

The deal with Safeway Inc. also includes numerous in-store pharmacies, gas stations, liquor stores and other distribution or manufacturing facilities across western Canada.

Sobeys hasn’t yet decided if it will keep the Safeway name or reflag the stores under one of its brands.

Sobeys already has a presence in B.C. through its IGA and Thrifty Foods brands.

Adding Safeway’s 75 B.C. stores will give Sobeys 107 outlets in this province. That compares to 101 for Overwaitea Food Group, 84 for Loblaws, 25 Walmarts and 14 Costcos.

The change of ownership may also mean changing product lines for customers who continue to frequent the stores, as well as possibly different loyalty card systems.

Both Sobeys and Safeway offer Air Miles reward points but the new operators indicated they will move to eliminate separate loyalty programs.

Big supermarket chains face growing competition as other retailers add groceries to their shelves.

“This is a significant and historic event for Sobeys, which has been proudly serving Canadian food shoppers for 106 years,” Empire president Paul Sobey said.

He called the acquisition an “excellent strategic fit” that strengthens the chain presence in Western Canada, and leverages its existing assets to better compete.

Empire officials intend to sell off Safeway stores’ real estate holdings and lease the properties back.

The planned purchase is subject to Competition Bureau approval.

Not everyone’s likes the deal.

Some shoppers posting on Canada Safeway’s Facebook page were critical of Sobeys, while others on Twitter doubt the takeout of a major grocery player will benefit consumers.

“Get ready for higher prices and less competition,” tweeted Vancouver’s Pete Quily.

Just Posted

Heat warning rescinded for Central and South Okanagan

Kelowna - It’s expected to cool off a bit this week

Lighting strikes spark 38 fires in B.C., 13 in the region

13 new fires in the Okanagan have been reported from the BC Wildfire Service Tuesday night.

Penticton fire offers tips to stay safe during wildfire season

Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson reminds all residents that wildfire season is here

City keeps pushing forward on downtown issues

The City of Penticton isn’t letting up on their campaign to reduce street issues

Update: Lightning sparks blaze above Summerland

Firefighters are battling the small fire from the area that occurred Tuesday shortly after 7 p.m.

Firefighters respond to roadside brush fire

Fire next to Highway 97 being brought under control.

Ingenious Okanagan beatboxer featured in video series

Nuge Bird uses beatboxing and comedy as a way to overcome his challenges

Search continues for missing North Okanagan-Shuswap women

Search planned for July 21-22 to start behind Splatsin Community Centre in Enderby

Lightning strikes West Kelowna condo

Fire crews were called to a building on Carrington Road Tuesday night

Lightning sparks wildfires in Vernon

Tuesday night storm causes wildfire in BX and residential fire in East Hill

Crash closes Highway 5A in both directions

A collision has shut down Highway 5A about 22 kilometres south of the junction with Highway 97C

UPDATE: Smoke rising from Okanagan Mountain Park hills

Lightning may have sparked a fire in the hills across from Peachland

UPDATE: Crews battle wildfire near Big White

Joe Rich Fire Department responding alongside Big White Fire Department and provincial crews.

Most Read