Alberni’s Walmart converts to ‘super centre’

Fresh produce and meat will be available to Alberni Walmart customers in four months.

Walmart manager Bill Robertson stands in the area of the store that is about the renovated. Walmart is adding meat and produce sections

Walmart manager Bill Robertson stands in the area of the store that is about the renovated. Walmart is adding meat and produce sections

Walmart customers will be able to purchase meat and fresh produce in the coming months, manager Bill Robertson said.

A construction site trailer appeared in the parking lot last week and staff are packing away stock in anticipation of the renovation.

“It’s a super centre, and is the new format that Walmart is changing to,” Robertson said.

“You won’t see a store being built without a grocery section anymore.”

Once finished, Walmart will contend with Extra Foods and Buy-Low Foods as a full-service grocery store.

Referred to as an in-box conversion, the new section will be added within the existing store but will not increase the size of the facility’s footprint.

The move is expected to increase customer retention, but is also expected to continue attracting customers from Parksville and Qualicum.

Some departments have already been cleared of goods to make way for the expanded section.

The work is expected to take four months and more than 40 workers have been hired to undertake the project.

Afterward, an additional 30 employees may be hired within the store to deal with the new section.

The new area will be tarped off while new coolers are added, Robertson said.

“Most of the work will take place at night though to minimize customer disruption,” he added.

The configuration of the store will change and some departments will expand while others will be scaled back.

How it will be played out isn’t yet finalized.

“It’s all on a schematic right now so all I see is counters,” Robertson said. “I don’t know how they’ll be merchandized yet.”

Walmart stores in Victoria, Langford, Duncan, Nanaimo, Campbell River and Courtenay have converted or are converting to the super centre format.

“I understand the conversion in Langford went well and that there was a lot of positive feeback from the public,” Robertson said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com