Choices Market fast tracks growth with new store and warehouse

Expansion plans include larger stores for the suburbs while keeping neighbourhood grocery status in small towns

Vancouver-based Choices Markets plans to kick off more growth with the opening of a new production and warehouse facility in a Burnaby industrial park and a new store in Abbotsford. The 20,000-sq.-ft. facility is more than double the size of the company’s former Richmond commissary, and will allow the grocer to focus on its line of prepared foods and breads, which it will ship to stores on a daily basis. The new facility will allow the chain to add between five and 10 stores before it needs to expand, says Ishkander Ahmed, chief executive officer. “This move will ultimately allow us an even greater variety of fresh products in all of our stores,” he says, adding that the facility includes a 5,000-sq.-ft. retail store fronting out on busy Marine Way. “It started off as a factory outlet, and then we thought we can’t just do a factory outlet if we want to call it a Choices, because people coming in are going to expect a bit more,” says Ahmed. “So it’s become a mini retail Choices store that has the smatterings of all our departments including health care.” Ahmed says they expect to draw a lot of business from the surrounding suburb and the large industrial parks in the area. For that reason they are adding a small café that will offer coffee, soups and various deli items. In September, Choices will open its tenth store in Abbotsford. At 15,000 square feet it will be the third largest store in the chain, and takes over the premises previously occupied by an IGA. While Abbotsford wasn’t the chain’s first choice for expansion, Ahmed says they couldn’t pass up the opportunity. “There are a lot of young families moving out there and there are also still a lot of people who work in the area, and there are also a lot of farmers as well,” he says. “It’s an area that is very interested in high quality food, local food and, of course, health and wellness.” Ahmed says Choices plans to continue to grow through acquisition and new building stock. They are currently looking at Richmond, Langley, the North Shore, Coquitlam, Surrey and infill stores in the Vancouver area. “We want to do bigger stores—between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet—out in the suburbs. But in town we see ourselves more as the neighbourhood grocery and they are all much smaller.”

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