Metro aims to cut 280 jobs in five years as part of plans to modernize
Grocery store chain Metro Inc. says the construction of its first automated distribution centres are unrelated to its efforts to offset added costs from Ontario’s rising minimum wage.
The Montreal-based company said it will eliminate about 280 jobs starting in 2021 as part of a $400-million overhaul of its Ontario distribution network.
The company said the move to modernize and automate its network will mean the loss of about 180 full-time and 100 part-time positions.
“In our industry we’re always looking at ways to become more efficient to lower pricing, but we have been talking about this for three years since I joined the company and well before anybody said anything about minimum wage,” Carmen Fortino, division head at Metro Ontario, said.
The announcement follows comments by Metro in August that it would study automation as it looked to cut costs in the face of the Ontario government’s plan to raise the minimum wage next year.
Metro has six distribution centres in Ontario including four in Toronto and two in Ottawa that employ a total of more than 1,500 workers.
It said the existing Ontario distribution network dates back to the 1960s and no longer meets the needs of its business.
“We see a lot of opportunities in the province and we wanted to make sure that we were going to be in a position to be able to grow but support our stores in a cost-efficient manner and add some flexibility to the way that we service our stores,” Fortino said.
The company plans to modernize the operations in Toronto between 2018 and 2023 by building a new fresh distribution facility and a new frozen distribution centre. The old fresh food warehouse will close and be dismantled while the frozen space will be used fornon-perishable groceries.
Metro has no immediate plans to automate its six distribution centres in Quebec, including the latest built five years ago in Laval.
Company aims to keep an ‘open mind’
However, further upgrades in other Ontario centres are eventually possible, said Fortino.
“Technology changes so quickly I think you have to keep an open mind to everything.”