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Loblaw to build more than 40 new stores as part of expansion plan



Canada's leading grocery giant, Loblaw Cos. Ltd., is embarking on an ambitious expansion plan, investing over $2 billion to build more than 40 new stores and renovate 700 existing locations. This significant investment includes the expansion and relocation of 10 stores, reinforcing Loblaw's commitment to enhancing its footprint in communities across the country.


Loblaw's Chief Executive, Per Bank, expressed the company's vision to introduce more than 40 new discount stores and 140 pharmacy care clinics, aiming to make healthcare and affordable food more accessible to a broader audience. The expansion plan is a strategic move for Loblaw, which owns well-known banners such as Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, and T&T, boasting a vast network of 2,500 stores nationwide.


Catherine Thomas, a spokesperson for Loblaw, declined to specify the exact locations of the new stores but confirmed the company's commitment to opening them in communities across Canada. Thomas emphasized the focus on adding pharmacy care clinics and increasing the number of discount stores, providing a more diverse range of services to consumers.


The expansion initiative is anticipated to generate over 7,500 jobs, encompassing roles in-store and in construction. Loblaw views these investments as a catalyst for job growth, creating opportunities within the company and fostering collaboration with various partners.


Loblaw's expansion comes amidst growing concerns over inflation in Canada, with Statistics Canada reporting a rate of 2.9% in January. The grocery giant has faced pressure from both the public and lawmakers to contribute to easing the burden of inflation, especially in the realm of food prices. Food inflation, which stood at 3.4% annually in January, has been a persistent challenge.


In response to calls for stability in prices, Loblaw has introduced initiatives like the "Hit of the Month" program, featuring monthly sales on selected goods. Additionally, discussions around a grocery code of conduct have been ongoing since 2020, aiming to establish fair rules for negotiations between suppliers and grocers. However, Loblaw, along with Walmart, has refrained from signing the industry-drafted code, expressing concerns about potential price increases.


Recently, the House of Commons committee studying food prices issued a warning to Loblaw and Walmart, stating that if they don't voluntarily sign the code, legislative measures could be taken. The pressure from lawmakers reflects a broader effort to address concerns about the impact of inflation on consumers and ensure fair practices within the grocery industry.


As Loblaw's expansion unfolds, it not only signifies a significant investment in the company's growth but also raises questions about how major grocery chains navigate the delicate balance between business interests and public expectations in the face of economic challenges.


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