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Loblaw to slow new builds, accelerate renovations

500 renovations, click-and-collect expansion on tap

Loblaw Cos. said Thursday that it expects to slow store openings and accelerate renovations this year, while holding capital expenditures at a steady rate from last year.s

The Brampton, Ont.-based retailer, Canada’s largest grocer and drug store operator, expects to open 30 new stores this year, down from 50 last year, while renovating 500 stores. Last year, Loblaw did about 150 renovations.

In both years the company expected to spend about $1.3 billion (Cdn., around $1 billion U.S.).

Loblaw isn’t alone in this strategy; several large retailers including Kroger and Sprouts have been moderating new builds as concern grows over capacity slowing sales growth.

Loblaw said renovations would include continued rollout of its click-and-collect internet shopping option at select sites. Loblaw had more than 100 stores offering the option by the end of 2016.

"Our investment will create improved retail experiences for customers and local jobs for communities," Galen G. Weston, chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "Our focus is clear: Across our network, we will provide greater access to fresh, affordable, innovative food and more robust health and wellness services for Canadians."

Loblaw said its building and renovation efforts this year would create an estimated 10,000 retail, trade and construction jobs.

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