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GO Transit riders can soon pick up groceries at select stations

Loblaw is partnering with Metrolinx at five stations in the Greater Toronto area

Loblaw Companies Limited has signed a deal to allow customers to pick up their online grocery orders at certain GO Transit stations in the Greater Toronto Area.

The grocer is working with Metrolinx to offer the service starting later this spring at five stations with plans to expand in phases to additional locations.

The service will allow customers to place their order online for pick up the next day.

The company says the groceries will come from nearby Fortinos or Loblaws stores and will be waiting in a special delivery truck, in lockers or in an enclosed kiosk.

The first stations will be Bronte, Oakville, Rouge Hill, Whitby and Clarkson.

The service follows the introduction by Loblaw of its click-and-collect model where customers order online and pick up their order at a store.

Loblaw launched click and collect in 2014 and now offers the online order, in-store pick up service at 300 of its stores. The company is rolling out that service at a rapid clip, with about one new store offering click and collect every day.

In November, the grocer announced it would also start home deliveries in Toronto and Vancouver through a partnership with California-based Instacart.

READ: Number of online delivery services grow as grocery wars heat up

Canada's grocers have doubled down on expanding their e-commerce offerings in response to Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods Market, including its 13 Canadian locations, last year. The move sparked speculation among industry watchers that the company may be looking to expand its grocery delivery service north of the border.

Shortly thereafter, Loblaw launched home delivery in two Canadian cities, and Sobeys signed a partnership to build a customer fulfilment centre in the GTA and launch home delivery in about two years.

Earlier this month, Walmart Canada announced a partnership with Vancouver-based Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery to start offering home delivery in the city by the summer.

Loblaw's new PC Express service is consistent with the company's goal to offer customers the highest level of convenience and value, and should help the company maintain and grow its customer base, said Irene Nattel, an analyst with RBC Dominion Securities, in a note.

"In a world moving increasingly toward giving consumers the option of shopping how they want, when they want, wherever they want, Loblaw is continuing to extend its offering and relative advantage," she said.

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