NS: No thrills for No Frills, say Spryfield shoppers

Kim Moar
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[SPRYFIELD, NS] Spryfield grocery shoppers says they're not happy to learn Loblaw Companies Ltd. is turning the community's full-service Superstore into a No Frills outlet this fall. No Frills stores don't have a meat counter, bakery or seafood counter or garden centre and will sell no name or Loblaw-brand products, plus some brand-name items.

The Spryfield Superstore opened in 1990. Tanya Duthie shops at the Spryfield Superstore every week spending between $150 and $200 to feed her family, but that will stop when the store is converted into a No Frills store.

"It's of no use to me. I won't be coming here and I'll have to go some place else, which is really inconvenient," Duthie says, because she lives nearby on Old Sambro Road. "I need one-stop shopping. I'm not going to go here and buy half my groceries and then have to go somewhere else, that's ridiculous."

Williams Lake Road resident Brian James says the change will likely send him shopping elsewhere too. James says he's tired of all the changes and renovations taking place at the South Centre Mall and finds the store small and lacking products he wants now.

"That will be the last straw, I can see moving on," James says.

Julia Hunter, vice-president of public relations for the Loblaw companies, describes their No Frills stores as a "hard discount model."

"In our opinion, it offers a tremendous price value proposition to our customers," Hunter says. She says the economics of a community is considered when deciding where to open a No Frills store. "We certainly would look at that. This is a proven model for us, we have more than 100 No Frills across the country."

She says the first one in Atlantic Canada opened in Shediac, N.B. last year and has proven to be successful.

"For us right now it's around creating a sustainable business model from which to keep our employees for the future and to ensure our customers get a price value proposition in that market. It helps us to compete more effectively," she says.

Hunter adds that No Frills stores are more community-based because they are owner-operated franchises. As for the employees at the Spryfield Superstore, Hunter says it's "premature" to comment on how this change will affect them.

Bruce Holland, executive director of the Spryfield and District Business Association, says he's concerned about what will happen to the staff, many of whom live in the Spryfield community.

"There's not much we can do about it as business commission, but we hope they treat their employees properly," Holland says.

He says he's heard from some unhappy residents, who say they will now shop at the Spryfield Sobeys instead.

Loblaw announced last week it will also covert a Supervalu store in Sydney and a Bridgewater Save Easy to No Frills. Loblaw employs about 230 people in the three stores changing to No Frills in Nova Scotia.

Hunter says the Superstore will remain open during the renovations to convert it to a No Frills outlet, with a grand re-opening planned for this fall. Hunter says the hours of operation are still under discussion. The first No Frills store opened in 1978.

Organizations: Loblaw Companies Ltd., Spryfield and District Business Association, Supervalu

Geographic location: Old Sambro Road, Williams Lake Road, Atlantic Canada Shediac Sydney Nova Scotia.Hunter

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