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Giant Tiger updates its fresh offering in Ottawa store

The upgrades include “right-sizing” its grocery department to prioritize fresh goods

Giant Tiger has announced a series of interior and exterior enhancements to its flagship Walkley Road store in Ottawa, including an increased emphasis on its produce and meat offering.

Jason Gardiner, associate vice-president, grocery category management for Giant Tiger in Ottawa, says the enhancements include a “right-sizing” of the store’s grocery section (from 25.5% to
29.9%) that includes reducing the
footprint of centre-aisle products and nearly
doubling the size of fresh goods.

“We’ve really improved our supply chain over the past couple of years doing produce and meat, and we’re now going to the next level of fresh,” he says. “We haven’t done anything with grocery in the past couple of years, so it’s time to update, refresh and move with the times. The customer is changing and so are we.”

The improvements to its grocery offering are among a wave of updates announced by the discount retailer, including the introduction of “enticing” exterior window treatments displaying its product assortment; new fixtures; improved overhead signage; and improved integration of its online and in-store operations (which currently extends to non-perishable grocery items).

While Giant Tiger counts soft goods and home goods among its primary business lines, Gardiner says grocery—and fresh in particular—has become a “critical” component of the company’s business mix in recent years.

Executives have been particularly encouraged by an enthusiastic customer response to its fresh offering, he says, with produce growing to become one of its
biggest categories in the past five years or so.

The rollout of its fresh meat offering, which debuted nearly two years ago, has also proceeded faster than expected, says Gardiner, with customers responding enthusiastically to the new product assortment.

“It really showed us the power behind fresh,” he says, noting that its augmented centre of the plate offering has started to position Giant Tiger as more of a full-shop option for some customers.

“We know we’ll never be a total shop because of our limited assortment, but we want to be able to a quick and easy option to get everything the customer needs for their family at that time,” says Gardiner.

“It’s really shown us that customers will a full shop with us if we have the products to offer,” he says, noting that basket sizes were increasing even prior to the pandemic. “It’s helped us build out and frame this assortment as the right direction.”

Giant Tiger’s primary shopper is mothers with young children who want to find quality products at good prices, says Gardiner. “It’s the same customer I think everyone’s after to be honest,” he says.

After adding new counter space, the discount retailer is also experimenting with ready to heat products like lasagne, as the current trend towards home meal replacement shows no signs of abating. “Customers are in a rush, they’re time-starved and convenience, so it sort of fits,” says Gardiner.

Despite obvious consumer demand for HMR, Giant Tiger is taking a cautious approach in its rollout, he stresses. “We always say keep the tiger in the cage, the tiger being grocery, so we’re very strategic in what we do with grocery. It’s to drive traffic and keep the customer excited about coming into the store.”

The 24,290 square-foot location is attached to Giant Tiger’s Ottawa headquarters, and also serves as a test centre for new concepts and innovations before they are rolled out throughout the company’s more than 250 stores nationwide. It’s the first time in nearly a decade that Giant Tiger has updated its in-store appearance, says Gardiner.

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