Sobeys to Build $31-Million Distribution Centre Near Airport

A new $31-million distribution centre for Thrifty Foods will be built in 2011 on the edge of Victoria Airport for the growing supermarket company.

Now with 25 stores and soon to open a 26th in Nanaimo, Thrifty Foods held a groundbreaking ceremony at the 19-acre leased site along Mills Road on the north side of the airport.

Bill McEwan, president of parent company Sobeys Inc., said $90 million has been spent on building new Thrifty Foods stores and upgrading existing locations since 2007. In fall 2010, the company opened store number 25 in North Vancouver and new store is scheduled to open this winter at Brooks Landing shopping centre in Nanaimo, the third one in that city.

The 152,000-square-foot distribution centre is expected to be operating by late 2012 and the company is aiming for LEED certification for a number of “green” aspects, including waste recycling, heat capture, energy use monitoring, and use of environmentally grown timber. For example, the building will incorporate mechanical systems that use waste heat generated by the refrigeration units to heat office areas, provide hot water, and feed the in-floor radiant heating system in the new building.

It will occupy 11 acres of the Victoria Airport Authority site so there’s plenty of room to expand there, said communications manager Erin Kelly. It will employ 50 people to start and is “significantly bigger” than the existing warehouse on Butler Crescent in the Keating Industrial Park. It will distribute food and related products to all of Thrifty’s 25 stores and through a wholesale division to another 60-plus independent supermarkets in B.C. It will provide extra capacity as Sobey’s expands the Thrifty brand beyond Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, Kelly said.

Thrifty Foods now has three distribution centres. All employees at the existing Central Saanich location will transfer to the new one while Thrifty Foods executive and administrative offices will remain at that site.