CANADA SAFEWAY PLANS TO CLOSE FIVE UNITS

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (FNS) -- Canada Safeway said it plans to close four of its 14 supermarkets here and a fifth in Port Alberni, British Columbia.erwaitea supermarkets and 17 Save-On-Foods discount units.Canada Safeway, based in Calgary, Alberta, described the affected units as "definitely tired, smaller, older stores." Spokeswoman Toby Oswald denied United Food and Commercial Workers union

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (FNS) -- Canada Safeway said it plans to close four of its 14 supermarkets here and a fifth in Port Alberni, British Columbia.

erwaitea supermarkets and 17 Save-On-Foods discount units.

Canada Safeway, based in Calgary, Alberta, described the affected units as "definitely tired, smaller, older stores." Spokeswoman Toby Oswald denied United Food and Commercial Workers union charges that closing the five stores was in part retribution for the strike, which idled 14,000 workers. "These closures are purely economical," she said. "They have nothing to do with the recent disruption. We were looking at closing them down prior to the dispute."

Industry observers said that during last summer's labor dispute, Canada Safeway warned it would sell its 87 British Columbia stores unless a tentative agreement was reached, noting that the stores' properties were worth more than the business. Tom Fawkes, a spokesman for UFCW Local 1518, which represents cashiers and clerks said Canada Safeway this year has shut some manufacturing facilities in Vancouver and has sold its Surrey, British Columbia, warehouse.

Canada Safeway -- which opened four new stores and closed three in British Columbia last year -- said it will meet with union officials to discuss relocation of 287 employees at the five stores being closed. According to Grant Hanson, Canada Safeway president, "We regret closing these stores. However, after tracking their performance since January, we have determined they are not viable locations for Safeway." In 1995, the Canada Safeway opened 35 stores, closed 35 and remodeled 108.