Canadian retailer Sobeys is to consolidate its operations in Quebec with the possible loss of jobs.

Sobeys has begun construction of an automated grocery distribution centre in the Montréal suburb of Terrebonne, Quebec.

The 470,000sq ft distribution centre, scheduled to open in early 2013, will consolidate all of the company’s dry grocery distribution for the province of Quebec, it said yesterday (27 January). This is designed to “significantly increase” Sobeys warehouse and distribution capacity while reducing overall distribution costs.

As a result, Sobeys will close its Rivière-du-Loup distribution centre and convert its Rouyn-Noranda facility to a cross-docking platform. The company said it will also “refocus” the mandates of its Montréal-North, Boucherville and Québec City distribution centres and is “currently evaluating the impact to employees” of the changes at those facilities.

The facility will integrate Witron Logistik Corp. technology which includes an automated picking and assembly system for improved product selection accuracy and the ability to customise store deliveries according to the unique store layout of each of the company’s retailers.

“We are taking advantage of the leading-edge technology that is transforming the food business in Europe and in North America, and that will become a must in our industry,” the president of operations for Sobeys Québec, Marc Poulin, said. “This significant capital investment clearly demonstrates our intention to support a strong food distribution network and infrastructure in the Québec market.”