Loblaws cuts hurt but Brampton still OK, says city official

The surprise cuts at Loblaws head office in Brampton hurt, but the local economy remains strong enough to withstand the corporate streamlining, says the city’s top economic development and tourism officer.

Sohail Saeed told YourMississaugaBiz.com the city has 150,000 workers and a diversified economy so while the streamlining hurts it won’t devastate the community.

“From an economic development perspective, layoffs are never good for anybody,” he said Tuesday, a few hours after Loblaws announced it is cutting 40 per cent of its headquarters staff.

“My heart goes out to the people affected. I trust they will make the right decisions and of course these jobs will come back in the market soon.”

Loblaw’s, lauded as one of Canada’s top employers for the last few years, announced early Tuesday it will cut 700 administrative and management jobs. Loblaws vice-president of public relations Julija Hunter said most of layoffs will be from the Presidents Choice Circle office building on the north side of the Brampton-Mississauga border, but notices will also be given to administrative positions across the country.

Saeed said while it’s unlikely all 700 people affected by the reorganizing would be Brampton residents, “the loss of many of these jobs still matter,” he said.

“To me, every single person counts,” he said. “Under the circumstances I hope they will be able to recuperate that as the economy improves. We are confident they are going to rebound. But everyone counts.”

The media communications manager for the City of Brampton agreed. “Our concern is for the families that are impacted,”Gordon Smith said. “They are still the fifth-largest employer in Brampton.”

Smith said the city was completely surprised by the news. “We weren’t aware on this matter,” he said. “It’s a corporate matter. The release just happened today and we didn’t know anything about it ahead of time.”

Despite the sudden announcement, Saeed said the company has a very good reputation in the Brampton area as an employer and has also won awards for their human resources department.

“I have full faith that they’re doing the right thing,” he said. “I trust, because of Loblaws Corp. reputation in the province and in the country, so I don’t doubt them or challenge them in any shape or form.”

The big grocery store operator is Brampton’s third-largest employer, ranking behind Number 1 Rogers Communications, with 4,500 employees at its digital cable and wireless operations in the city.

Just behind Rogers is the Chrysler car assembly plant, which employs about 4,100 people on the factory floor and elsewhere producing various models for the big U.S. automaker’s Canadian subsidiary.

Brampton has an export-focused economy and has been vulnerable to troubles in the North American auto industry and a high loonie, factors that have squeezed the export potential of the city’s businesses.

But it also has a strong trucking and warehousing industry which continues to grow.

Hard goods retailer Canadian Tire employs nearly 1,000 people at its Greway Dr. warehouse, distributing everything from auto parts and sports equipment to bikes and hockey skates for the Greater Toronto area.

Soft drink giant Coca-Cola employs 750 people at a Brampton bottling operation, while automaker Ford Canada  and discoun retailer Zellers, also have warehouses and distribution businesses in the city.







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