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Courtenay Walmart becoming supercentre

COURTENAY STORE MANAGER Sandra Strawson shows off the meat selection in the new grocery section. - Scott Stanfield
COURTENAY STORE MANAGER Sandra Strawson shows off the meat selection in the new grocery section.
— image credit: Scott Stanfield

The Courtenay Walmart has grown into a supercentre.

As of Friday, the store includes a grocery complete with produce, meats, deli items, dairy, frozen products and a bakery.

Management has added about 90 new sales associates, selected from more than 650 applications for various jobs including cashiers and salespeople.

"We're really excited about the grand reopening of the Courtenay store," said Felicia Fefer, manager of corporate affairs at Walmart Canada. "We think the customers will be really excited about the new offerings...Canadians love our supercentres because they provide the one-stop shop they're looking for."

The Courtenay supercentre includes a medical clinic, pharmacy, vision centre, a connection centre for wireless services, a photography centre, a McDonald's and a Western Union.

"We've taken major steps to refresh our stores," Fefer said. "We have easy-to-navigate aisles with directional signage, we have a bright interior colour scheme, and we've also lowered some of the shelving so you have an improved sightline."

There are a total of 290 employees at the Courtenay Walmart Supercentre — among the company's 73 real estate projects this year in terms of expanding, remodeling or relocating existing stores.

"That's a $750-million investment. It's a big year for us at Walmart Canada," Fefer said, noting 39 Zellers stores the company has acquired and renovated.

As of Friday, 62 of the 73 projects had been completed.

"We've really come a long way since we opened our first supercentre in 2006," Fefer said.

The Courtenay Walmart first opened as a discount store in 2001. The new store has been renovated and expanded by about 38,000 square feet.

"It is a bit of a larger footprint. (But) We remain committed to sustainability," Fefer said, noting LED signage and lights, waste diversion streams and sales of environmentally-friendly products.

A Friday grand opening at 7 a.m. includes a ribbon-cutting with local dignitaries, speeches and cheque presentations to charities. Doors open to the public at 8 a.m.

The festivities continue Saturday with a block party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be refreshments and samples.

"It should be a lot of fun," Fefer said, noting Walmart Canada's mission is to help Canadian families in need.

The store will donate upwards of $8,000 to Valley organizations.

The Courtenay store is among eight Walmarts on Vancouver Island, including Powell River. The others are in Victoria, Nanaimo, Duncan, Langford, Campbell River and Port Alberni.

Established in Canada in 1994 with the acquisition of the 122-store Woolco division of Woolworth Canada, Walmart Canada operates more than 300 stores across the country. It employs upwards of 85,000 Canadians. It is headquartered in Mississauga, Ont.

Each store carries close to 80,000 products from apparel and home decor to electronics and grocery, along with specialty services.

Walmart also operates in the U.S., U.K., Argentina, Brazil, Japan, China, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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