Extra Foods will eventually become the new Kootenay Co-op.

Extra Foods closure puts 40 out of work

The Kootenay Co-op’s move was met with excitement from members but in taking over the Extra Foods location, the employees will be displaced.

The announcement of the Kootenay Co-op’s move this week was met with excitement from members, but in taking over the Extra Foods location the existing store and employees will be displaced.

Loblaw — who are the owners of Extra Foods — said in a statement earlier this week that they have no plans to reopen an Extra Foods in Nelson.

“The reason for the closure of this Extra Foods location is that the lease agreement we have with the land owner will expire at the end of May 2012,” said corporate affairs director for Lobaw Craig Ware. “We are working with the union to support our colleagues during this time of transition.”

There will be 40 employees impacted by the move of the Co-op.

“The unionized employees are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers,” said Ware. “We are meeting with the union to discuss how we can best support these employees during this time of transition.”

Tom Thomson executive director of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce said the move is obviously both a good and bad thing for the community.

“You’ve got a great opportunity for the Co-op to move into a bigger and larger location as to what they were looking for, but on the down side there are obviously going to be a number of displaced workers that are going to be out of work or relocated within the community,” said Thomson.

The Great Canadian Wholesale Club located on Lakeside Drive is also part of the Loblaw chain and Thomson suggested there may be an opportunity for the employees to be absorbed with that store.

“There is always the possibility — and I’m not certain how the union works through different stores — of being able to assimilate some of those folks over at the Great Canadian Wholesale Club down at Lakeside Drive or Save-On Foods or Safeway,” he said.

Some of the employees of Extra Foods have been there for nearly 30 years and Thomson said the area around the 700 block of Baker Street has been serviced by a grocery store for many years.

“It’s obviously a concern for those folks because that location has been up at the far end of Baker Street for a number of years and that downtown core has always had the service of a supermarket of some store for decades now,” he said.

The relocation of the Co-op — who will take possession of the new property on June 1 of this year — means there will be a new vacancy on Baker Street.

“There is a lot of development taking place at the far end of Baker Street and I that’s very positive,” said Thomson.

Thomson mentioned the relocation of Big Cranium Designs to their newly retrofitted building, the construction and development of the Nelson Daily News building and the work on the old Canadian Pacific Railway station among the projects bringing new life to the lower end of Baker Street.

“There is a need for some more space and hopefully someone comes in and says ‘there is a great location at that end of Baker Street and we see the development opportunities in that area and we’d like to take over that from a retail or commercial perspective,’” said Thomson.

Extra Foods employees were unable to comment on the closure of the grocery store.

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