Sobeys confirms it will not re-open a grocery store in Colborne

Cramahe Township mayor hopes another retailer will move into location of former Foodland destroyed by fire last May

Sobeys announced in a recent letter to Cramahe Township it would not be re-opening a grocery store in Colborne, following the closure of the Colborne Foodland after a May 2023 fire. (Photo: Google Maps)
Sobeys announced in a recent letter to Cramahe Township it would not be re-opening a grocery store in Colborne, following the closure of the Colborne Foodland after a May 2023 fire. (Photo: Google Maps)

Mandy Martin paid for her furnace with the money she made working behind the deli counter at the former Foodland in the village of Colborne.

The mayor of Cramahe Township in Northumberland County is familiar with the history and the importance of the former Toronto Street grocery store — Colborne’s only full supermarket — that was destroyed by fire in May 2023.

The township announced Tuesday (April 23) it had received a letter from Sobeys, the parent company of the Colborne Foodland, stating it would not be reopening a food store in Colborne.

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“We know that people are missing it desperately — the access to food, a food store, and the deli, of course,” Martin told kawarthaNOW.

“I also appreciate though that for Sobeys, it’s a major business decision,” the mayor added. “We have a population here of 6,200. They have a Sobeys store 15 kilometres in Brighton to the east and then there’s Foodland, which is owned by Sobeys/governed by Sobeys, in Cobourg.”

She said that, given the former Colborne Foodland building was destroyed, Sobeys would have to start from scratch to bring the grocery store back to Colborne.

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“While we are disappointed by this news, we know the strength and potential of our dynamic, growing community,” Martin said in a media release from the township.

“Colborne has successfully met all kinds of economic challenges in its 230 years-plus of foundation. Now, we encourage, and welcome all interested to consider this investment opportunity.”

Martin said maybe the location would provide an opportunity for another retailer, such as, for example, Giant Tiger.

Cramahe said it received the letter on April 23, signed by Mark Deans, director, development and transactions in Ontario, and Krista Payne, vice-president of operations in Ontario, for Sobeys Inc.

“We have made the difficult decision not to re-open the store,” the letter stated. “Regrettably, reopening is not a viable option. We understand that this will affect the community, and so wanted you to hear directly from us so that you are informed and prepared to address any questions from residents.”

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The franchise owner and operator of the store is meeting with affected teammates, the letter continued, and in many cases employees who have transitioned to work at the Cobourg Foodland will retain those roles.

“Additionally, we are committed to supporting the remaining employees as they transition to another store or pursue other employment and career opportunities,” the letter stated.

Martin said residents are adapting and will continue to adapt to getting their groceries in a different way. For instance, Rutherford’s Farm & Roadside Market, a seasonal business in Colborne that sells fresh produce, baked goods and more, opened a month earlier in light of the Foodland being gone.

In addition, shortly after the fire, Downey Pharmacy on King Street East began stocking more food items. Colborne’s Mister Convenience store on Toronto Street also expanded its inventory to include more food.

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In its letter, Sobeys said, “We wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Colborne community for their loyal patronage of the store over the years, and the dedication of our teammates in service to the community.”

The Little Britain Foodland in Kawartha Lakes was also closed by Sobeys last month, after the company decided not to renew its lease with the owner of the land where the grocery store is located.

“The decision to close a store is never one we make lightly, and various contributing factors are considered,” a Sobeys representative told kawarthaNOW in February. “We regularly review our operations, and the decision is driven by that regular assessment process and is in line with our normal course of business.”