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People walk by a Loblaws grocery store in Toronto, in this file photo.

© Mark Blinch / Reuters

Loblaw is planning to build dozens of new stores and renovate more than 100 others this year, creating thousands of retail and construction jobs.

Loblaw says that over all, it will build about 50 new stores and renovate 150 existing ones, including projects that started in January.

The stores will include both grocery stores of various banners as well as Shoppers Drug Mart locations. Loblaw is not yet releasing information on where the new stores will be located.

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The number of new stores announced is not unusual, said Edward Jones analyst Brittany Weissman, though the company plans to renovate slightly more outlets than before.

Loblaw made a similar announcement early last year, when it said it would build 50 new stores and improve more than 100 others. Later, in July 2015, Loblaw said it would close 52 locations across Canada that had fallen short of expectations.

"They close some stores each year, they open some new stores each year," Weissman said.

Catherine Thomas, Loblaw's director of external communications, said in an e-mail that this year's expansion will add about 5,000 new store employees while creating roughly 15,000 construction jobs.

The new jobs will beef up Loblaw's employee base by 2.6 per cent. Loblaw employs about 192,000 full– and part-time workers, according to its most recent annual information form.

The company will invest $1-billion in the expansion, while Choice Properties REIT, a real estate investment trust, will contribute $300-million.

"We continue to invest in our business in ways that matter for the Canadian economy and the millions of Canadians who shop with us each week," Galen G. Weston, the company's president and executive chairman, said in a statement.

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Thomas said the completion and success of multiple IT and supply chain investments over past few years now allows Loblaw to increasingly focus its capital on stores.

The investment will also go towards increasing Loblaw's e-commerce, IT infrastructure and supply chain projects.

Loblaw will likely expand its click-and-collect program, said Weissman. The service allows customers to shop online and pick up their order at a participating store.

In February, Weston said the company planned to accelerate the program's rollout beyond its current 39 stores.

Loblaw already operates more than 2,300 retail stores. They include its grocery store chains such as Loblaws, No Frills and Real Canadian Super Store as well as Shoppers Drug Mart outlets and Joe Fresh apparel stores.

The company's most recent quarterly results in February showed profits slipped more than a third compared with the previous year. However, the decline was primarily due to costs and accounting items associated with unusual items, rather than store performance, the company said.

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Loblaw will release its first-quarter results on May 4.

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