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Costco to open first Canadian business centre

New format caters to convenience store and restaurant industry, and food service operators

Costco Wholesale announced on Wednesday the groundbreaking of its first Canadian Costco Business Centre.

The new concept targets businesses of all sizes, including those in the convenience store and restaurant industry, and food service operators.

The 127,000-sq.-ft. location will be vastly different from any current Costco Wholesale warehouse, with 80% of its product offerings unique to the Costco Business Centre.

There are certain categories you won't find in a Costco Business Centre that you might expect to see in a standard Costco store, such as clothing or jewellery, says Andree Brien, senior vice-president at Costco Wholesale Canada. But Costco Business Centres have a deep assortment in the categories they do provide.

You might find 500 to 600 SKUs in the confectionery aisles in a business centre, for example, versus 100 to 200 in a Costco store.

The store also boasts an ample fresh department, says Brien, but in a format that caters to businesses. "There's no cutting in the meat department," he explains, as an example.

The stores also tout next-day delivery of orders using a new truck fleet, as well as business-friendly hours that start at 7 a.m. rather than the regular 10 a.m.

"Costco's Business Centre will help our local businesses grow by providing them with the products they need in a timely manner," says Toronto Mayor John Tory. "This is good for business and it's good for our economy."

Because of the nature of its customers, baskets are on average four times larger than those shopping at a traditional Costco. And forget the crowded aisles and long lines—Brien says the centres are usually a bit quieter, as businesses take advantage of the delivery options and extended hours.

He describes shopping at a Costco Business Centre as a "truly unique retail experience."

The Scarborough store is set to open in March. Although the format is geared towards business customers, anyone who has a Costco card can shop at the store.

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