Loblaw to spend $100 million on Provigo and other stores in Quebec


The dreaded Toronto Maple Leafs name will likely never be mentioned, but the Loblaws store at the former Maple Leaf Gardens is serving as the inspiration for eight Provigo and Loblaws concept stores in Quebec that are part of a $100 milllion investment in the province.

The investment includes a new Provigo outlet in Sherbrooke in the Eastern Townships, which represents the first new Provigo to be built in Quebec in six-and-a-half years. The 43,000-sq.-ft. store, one of Provigo’s biggest, is scheduled to open in July.

“The investments are the biggest for Loblaws in Quebec in five years,” said Hugues Mosseau, senior director, corporate affairs and communication at Provigo in Montreal, which is part of the Loblaw Group. “It’s an important engagement for the company, which is continuing to build its future here.”

Seven existing Provigos and Loblaws are also being renovated to fit the concept, while Maxi and Maxi & Cie stores will be renovated to various degrees.

The concept stores will “respond to the evolving Quebec market in which consumers tend much more to be foodies,” Mosseau said. Such consumers are much more aware about healthy eating and are seeking better products, he added.

The stores will feature a vast offering of fresh fruit and vegetables, organic foods, and much more local and regional fare, such as strawberries grown in the Eastern Townships for the Sherbrooke store.

Specially-trained food experts will be on the floor of the concept stores to explain new products and recipes to consumers “so that they can better pair cheese with wine or marmelades with bread,” Mosseau said. “Major expertise has been developed to provide exceptional customer service in these stores.”

Asked why a new Provigo hasn’t opened in several years, Mosseau responds that the number of stores under the Provigo, Loblaw, Maxi and Maxi & Cie banners have remained relatively stable in recent years. “We’ve worked to optimize our network of stores,” to better correspond to consumer needs and demographic changes he said. “In some cases decisions were made to convert Loblaws stores into Maxi & Cies to fit clienteles that preferred discount stores.”

The Loblaws store in Kirkland on the West Island of Montreal, will serve as the flagship store for the new concept in Quebec and most closely mirror Loblaws’ Maple Leaf Gardens store. The Toronto store includes an extensive ready-to-eat meals section, a meal replacement counter where shoppers can watch the chefs in action, in-store bakery, juice bar, dry-aged beef service and an 18-foot glassed in cheese wall with 400 types of cheese.

Renovations to the Kirkland outlet are slated for completion in July, while the other stores will be completed by the end of the year.

Provigo stores in the Montreal neighbourhood of Ahuntsic and in Boucherville and Loblaws stores in Magog, Saint-Bruno and Saint-Sauveur are also being renovated to fit the concept.

In addition, renovations at Maxi and Maxi & Cie stores will range from major layout changes to minor behind the scenes changes, such as new refrigeration.

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