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WINNIPEG -- Shell Canada Ltd., will close 21 Shell Agency locations in Manitoba, as efforts to sell the bulk fuel, lubricant and unmanned "cardlock" fuel sites were unsuccessful, the Canadian Press reported.

Last week, the company said its 75 other retail and cardlock locations in Manitoba aren't going to be affected by the closures, which will occur between Nov. 9 and 16, the report stated. Job loss details were not immediately available to the Canadian Press.

"For years, the agency business has faced challenges and, in its current form, it is no longer a sustainable business for Shell," Les Markiewicz, general manager of commercial fuels, said in a statement cited by the Canadian Press.

While there was interest in the sites, "the opportunity was not deemed economically viable to pursue upon further review," the company said.
"The focus during this period is on working with local sales associates who operate these locations, customers and affected communities," the company said in a statement. "Shell is continuing to work with stakeholders to ensure they understand the change."

Locations closing Nov. 9 include Brandon, Carberry, Neepawa, Shoal Lake, Swan River, Birch River, Dauphin, Winnipegosis, Russell and Roblin, Manitoba. Locations closing Nov. 16 include Notre Dame, Brunkild, Morden, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, Winkler, Steinbach, Dominion City, Dugald, Vita and Thompson, Manitoba, according to the report.

In other news, Grupo Modelo SAB, Mexico's largest brewer and operator of Extra convenience stores in Mexico, will reduce its chain to 1,400 from 2,043, in efforts to boost profit at its retail unit, Bloomberg News reported.

Modelo expects to close about 350 stores in 2007, open 200 new locations and convert 500 stores to beer-only locations, CEO Carlos Fernandez said during a conference call with analysts, cited by Bloomberg News.

"We prefer to focus on profitability," Fernandez said. "As soon as we have a healthy base, we will continue to focus on growth."

Modelo created the Extra convenience chain to tap the rapid growth of retail outlets in Mexico, and gain a platform to sell its beer, according to the report.

Fernandez added he expects the chain to break even in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization at the end of 2008, the report stated.