In the deal announced in June 2013, Nova Scotia-based Sobeys purchased 213 Safeway stores. However, Sobeys was required to sell 23 stores as part of an agreement with the Competition Bureau. Sobeys in Wetaskiwin was 1 of 14 stores purchased by Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), on behalf of the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS). At 12:01 am on April 22, Sobeys at 4703 – 50 Street in Wetaskiwin became Wetaskiwin Co-op.
On the morning of April 23rd, General Manager of Wetaskiwin Co-op, Al Halter, offered comments on the transfer. “Co-op, for us as a company that has been around for 97 years, had taken a break from the food business a number of years ago and at the time it was the right decision. We believe that today, getting back in the food business is the right decision.
You will be seeing lots of cosmetic changes to the store and we are going to be offering a wider range of products of greater value. I would think our customers and our members from the City of Wetaskiwin and region will really like what they see.
The Co-op has a great history and over the years has taken some risks in a number of areas but the company has done very well and is strong in a number of areas – the feed mill, a strong petroleum division, the store at Falun, the Wetaskiwin Co-op home and ag centre, and now the grocery store. But all these things just didn’t happen. It took people and strong leadership.
Although the patronage dividends won’t be established on food purchases until the end of the year, we expect there will be nice allocations on the food purchases each and every year. I expect our members and customers will be happy with the dividends and the value package this location offers. To me a value package means the quality of product, competitive pricing and service.
The Co-op grocery store has not hired any new employees because all the existing Sobeys employees had come on Board. They seem quite excited to be offering the community a new brand of food carrying the well established Co-op brand.
The Wetaskiwin Co-op memberships are valid for all products and locations offered by the Wetaskiwin Co-op. Watch for the grand opening likely in late June.
There was a lot of work done beginning at 12:01 Tuesday. I want to thank our staff. As a team we made considerable impact on the store and will continue to do so over the next couple weeks.”
General Manager, Al Halter, concluded by stating, “The Wetaskiwin Co-op is extremely pleased to be providing its members and customers from the City of Wetaskiwin and surrounding area to a brand new grocery shopping experience – everyone is welcome to shop at their local Co-op. Traditions that started decades ago remain the cornerstone of who we are today. A promise to stay local, a commitment to community and a business model that shares profits with anyone who wishes to become a member.”
Wetaskiwin Co-op serves more than 12,000 member-owners as well as many non-member customers at their Home, Agro and Feed Centre and the Falun branch. Wetaskwin Co-op returned more than $2.3 million in cash to members in 2013. In the last five years it has returned $5 million in cash to its members.