Bateman was one of the grocery industry's best


The grocery industry lost one of its most respected peers on April 19 after Bob Bateman lost his battle with cancer at age 68.

The Bateman family business was an example of a true “family-run” operation.

Bateman’s father, Weldon (Tubby) Bateman began his business in 1932 as a meat shop on 99th Street in Edmonton. He grew the company to four stores and in 1959 joined the IGA franchise group, which was supplied by Horne and Pitfield.

“Bob first got his taste of the grocery business when he was asked (told) by his father, Weldon (Tubby) Bateman, to deliver groceries on his bike at the age of five,” recalled Michael Bateman, Bob’s son.

Bateman went to work for Tubby after high school as a butcher. With the support of Ken Quinn and Horne and Pitfield and some financial partners he opened Southgate IGA in 1968.

In 1970, Bateman, along with his brother-in-law, Ivan Radostits bought Bateman Foods from Tubby and eventually grew the company to eight IGAs and 14 Red Roosters. The company then split in 1995 with the Bateman family getting four stores and the Radostits getting three.

Bateman’s son, Michael, had a store, Lansdowne IGA, which was added it to his dad’s four stores creating the new Bateman Foods­­—a five store company and Michael became president. Strathcona IGA was later added in 1997. Over the next 14 years, some stores were sold, some were closed and the name of the Belmont location was switched to Sobeys in 2004, which is Bateman Foods’ only current location.

A true entrepreneur at heart, Radostits said that Bateman was most proud of the Bateman Foods’ partnership program in which store managers were offered the opportunity to purchase their own IGA store with financial support in exchange for part ownership.

“His greatest achievement was being able to set people up to be their own business owners,” said Radostits. Over his 30 years as president of Bateman Foods, 13 people took Bateman up on his business proposition.

He was also instrumental in giving a voice to independent IGA and Sobeys franchisees in Alberta and B.C. as one of the founders of the Independent Retail Grocers Association (IRGA). “In the early 70s, a group of retailers including Bob, formed IRGA to be able to exchange ideas and have one solid voice with wholesalers,” recalled Radostits.

Bateman was also a Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers' Life Member.

Bateman is survived by his wife Anita and children Joanne, Michael, Deanne and Greta who all followed in his footsteps with careers in the food industry.

Bateman’s life will be celebrated at the Edmonton Marriott at River Cree Resort on April 28 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to Zebra Child Protection Centre by contacting Barb Spencer at 780-421-2016. Condolences to the family can be made by visiting Connelly-McKinley Funeral Homes.

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