Dawson Creek’s Walmart will join the ranks of the chain's Supercentre locations in either late 2015 or early 2016, spokesperson Alex Roberton confirmed to Alaska Highway News.
The store will remain open during the renovations, which are expected to start later this month. The current 90,000 square foot store will not be expanded, Roberton says. Instead, a space inside the store will be renovated to house a larger grocery selection.
Walmart Canada announced expansion plans in February, bringing 29 new Supercentre projects online. All are expected to be complete by January 2016. The total cost of the expansions is about $340 million. Specific cost details for the Dawson Creek expansion were not provided.
Roberton said the Dawson Creek expansion should be complete by early 2016 at the latest.
“I haven’t seen construction dates, but the intent is that the store will open late this year, early next year,” he said. “You might notice construction happening, but the store will not close. You’ll see areas of the store that are cut off while we do the work to get the grocery section put in.”
This is similar to what the Fort St. John location went through last year when that location transformed into a Supercentre, he explained.
Expansion of the current grocery section will be the main focus at the Dawson Creek store.
“We'll add fresh food, fresh produce and a meat assortment. In the store already there is a dry assortment of foods, along with freezers and fridges. Those would get expanded,” Roberton said.
Walmart Canada chose Dawson Creek as an expansion location because of its potential for growth in the coming years, and because market research and customer surveys showed the food needs for the area could benefit from an expanded grocery selection.
“If there is an opportunity to save customers money on their weekly grocery shop, then it’s an important consideration,” Roberton said, adding that local contractors will be hired to do the renovation work inside the building.
The impact on locally-owned and somewhat smaller grocery chains is not missed by Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathleen Connolly.
"My initial thought always is that competition is good," she said. "I think it would certainly pressure the existing stores that we have. We would welcome it with mixed feelings."
Gerry Styre, food manager at the Dawson Creek Co-op had concerns.
"Walmart has made it quite plain that they want a Supercentre in [most] markets," Styre said. "Us being a smaller store, we have to continue to work on our strengths." One of those being that the Co-op offers a different selection than Walmart.
"We have the ability to bring in unique products and quality fresh merchandise so we'll continue with that," said Styre.