Wednesday, August 14, 2013 4:39:52 EDT PM
The list of Metro stores that will close under the grocery chain’s plan to reorganize its Ontario network will not be finalized for six to nine months, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.
But Mayor Deb Haswell said the city will continue to be proactive as it tries to ensure the Owen Sound store is not one of them.
“Certainly, the importance of a grocery store downtown can’t be understated,” she said in an interview.
“It’s a very important business and type of business to have in the core. There’s no question. Also, the number of jobs . . . they are jobs that we want to protect and to keep in the city.”
Montreal-based Metro Inc. has announced plans to close or convert to its Food Basics banner 15 stores in the face of “increased competition.” The company also said it will offer buyouts to some of its unionized employees.
Marie-Claude Bacon, senior director of corporate affairs, said a maximum of three of the company’s 149 Metro stores in Ontario will close.
She said she cannot comment on whether the company is considering for closure the Owen Sound store, which, while an A&P, was slated to be shuttered in 2004 before company officials changed their minds.
Owen Sound already has a Food Basics store at Heritage Place mall.
Haswell said she called Metro’s head office shortly after learning of the reorganization plan to notify company officials of the importance to the city and its residents of both the downtown grocery store and Food Basics.
She said the city is also putting together information to back up its position. She said city officials may visit Metro’s head office for further discussions.
“We’ll be speaking with the Metro folks on a regular basis. I’ll be advised directly of any news coming out about our particular stores here,” she said.
Bacon said she received the information from Haswell and passed it on to the company’s management team.
“I understand that our Metro is located downtown and that it would be quite important to you that it stays a Metro store,” she said. “But at this point, I cannot give you any assurance about that.”
A&P, which was purchased by Metro in 2005, had announced plans to close its Owen Sound store.
In the fall of 2004, after a conversation with then-mayor Ruth Lovell Stanners, company officials said the store would remain open. The former mayor said at the time that she told the company about the Big Dig, which affected business on 2nd Ave. E., as well as a plan to redevelop the east side of the harbour.