Farm Boy continues Toronto expansion with east end location

With the buying power of Empire behind it, Farm Boy says it has better access to premium downtown sites, and is also eyeing smaller formats

Farm Boy took the next step in its ambitious Toronto expansion plan Thursday with the opening of a store in the heart of Canada’s biggest city.

The 20,000-sq.-ft store in Toronto’s east end includes many of the hallmarks associated with Farm Boy, most notably a large offering of prepared foods and fresh salads from a 36-ft. hot and salad bar.

Expansion into the Greater Toronto Area has been on the agenda for Farm Boy for some time, but when it was acquired by Sobeys' parent Empire last September, executives made it clear those plans could pick up speed, with the substantial buying power and logistical support of the much larger Empire behind it.

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Jeff York, Farm Boy co-CEO, told Canadian Grocer at the time that getting premium locations was tough when Farm Boy was competing with Loblaw, Sobeys and Metro for real estate. The first Toronto store opened at the western edge of Toronto last year and was doing well, said York, even though “it’s not even in a good location.”

The new store is at a major intersection (Lake Shore and Leslie), at the edge of an affluent neighbourhood and just across the street from a FreshCo and a Loblaw.

Now that it is part of Empire, Farm Boy will have better access to premium sites all around the GTA and could be looking at more smaller format locations of about 8,000-sq.-ft. York said Farm Boy could have as many as 60 stores in the Toronto area in the next five years.

Aside from the prepared and hot meal offerings, the Leslieville Farm Boy offers its usual selection of fresh produce, butcher quality meats, artisan cheeses and locally sourced food. A small seating area allows customers to dine-in, choosing from pizzas and flatbreads, stir-fries and sushi.

“The heart and soul of our business since 1981 continues to focus on offering fresh, wholesome foods and friendly service,” said York in a release announcing the latest store opening. “We are excited to be opening our newest location in the Leslie and Lake Shore community and we promise to work hard to earn their business.”

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