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12/12/2018

Empire completes $800-million Farm Boy purchase

Sobeys parent plans to grow the brand across Ontario with an emphasis on the Greater Toronto Area

Empire Company Limited has completed its purchase of Farm Boy.

The parent company of grocery chain Sobeys Inc. announced in September it was paying $800 million for the Ontario-based chain of grocery stores, with plans to aggressively grow the brand in the Toronto area over the next five years.

"We are thrilled to officially team up with Farm Boy," said Empire president and CEO Michael Medline, in a press release. "They have an incredible brand, great stores and customer service, and a superb leadership team. We look forward to turbo-charging Farm Boy's growth and allowing them to broaden the reach of their winning formula."

With the buying power of Sobeys behind it, Farm Boy will have better access to premium sites all around the GTA including in the downtown core where Farm Boy sees potential for smaller formats, such as the 8,000-sq.-ft. store it recently opened in Ottawa’s Rideau Centre.

While Sobeys faced criticism and customer complaints about how it handled the 2013 acquisition of Safeway, Medline has made it clear Empire intended to let Farm Boy operate as a totally independent business with both founder Jean-Louis Bellemare and his co-CEO Jeff York left alone to operate the business.

The co-CEOs, along with Farm Boy senior management team members Donny Milito, senior VP of retail operations and product development and Shawn Linton, vice-president, supply chain and IT, hold a 12% interest in Farm Boy.