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Sobeys starts first round of layoffs

A restructuring, dubbed Project Sunrise, is underway at Sobeys.
A restructuring, dubbed Project Sunrise, is underway at Sobeys.

By James Risdon - SaltWire Network

Sobeys is giving the axe to dozens of its execs across the country in a much-anticipated move by the Nova Scotia-based national grocer to slash its costs and beef up the bottom line.

Fourteen of those jobs are being lost in Pictou County, another three in Dartmouth.

“I’m saddened by the news,” said Stellarton Mayor Danny MacGillivray in an interview Oct. 10. “It’s a concern for sure. I just hope there won’t be any more impact locally.”

Although Sobeys officials would not divulge the salary range of the positions being cut, these were good-paying jobs just below that of the company’s vice-presidents.

And it’s clear more cuts are coming.

“We do expect to see additional colleagues leaving the organization through the final stages of the restructuring process in all of our major corporate offices across the country,” said Jacquelin Corrado, Sobeys director of external communications, Oct. 10.

Most of those other layoffs are expected to come before the end of this year, she said.

The job losses are part of a restructuring at Sobeys that is being dubbed Project Sunrise. It was announced in early May and includes a target of shaving $500 million in annual costs from the company’s books by 2020.

“The grocery business is highly competitive and our regionally-based structure slowed us down. As we move to a national, functionally-led company, we have an aggressive goal to transform our organization and leverage our size and scale,” said Michael Medline, Sobeys president and chief executive officer, in a statement Oct. 10.

“Change of this magnitude is not easy on our employees, but we remain committed to making tough decisions, and executing the necessary changes, to ensure our future success,” he said.

According to Medline, the future Sobeys will have a simpler, leaner structure, be more efficient and better leverage its $24-billion national scale.

“This will free us up to be extremely nimble, grow market share and thrill our customers in the more than 1,500 communities that we will continue to operate in,” he said.

Mayor MacGillivray was trying to take some comfort in Sobeys’ promise that it will continue to operate in Stellarton.

“Sobeys is a huge deal for Stellarton,” said the mayor. “Their head office is in our town and they provide hundreds of jobs and this is a community of just over 4,000 people. . . . It looks like they’re committed to staying in Stellarton.”

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