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Loblaws to go Provigo in Quebec?


The best way to describe Provigo these days is like a famous rock band from the 1970s and 1980s who many people forgot about. Then, one day, a comeback album is issued and the band is back on top.

Provigo, the Quebec grocery banner, was indeed a retail star in the '70s and '80s.

But for most of the past decade we haven’t heard much new from Provigo. When we did, it was usually news items such as the one back in 2006 when owner Loblaw Companies announced that it was closing a slew of underperforming Provigos.

But now, Provigo is making a comeback. It could even become Loblaw’s primary conventional grocery weapon in La Belle Province.

According to an article in the Montreal Gazette, Loblaw intends to convert its stores in the province to Provigo.

That assertion came from an unnamed “knowledgeable” source, according to the article.

I doubt Loblaw is planning to convert all its Quebec stores to Provigo. But it would make some sense to switch the approximately 38 Loblaws bannered stores to Provigo.

Why? Loblaw is investing a nice chunk of money to re-energize the Provigo brand. The banner has a new sponsorship deal with Quebec’s beloved Montreal Canadiens, in addition to other marketing initiatives.

READ: Provigo hopes to score with Habs

There are 78 Provigo stores in Quebec at the moment so why not go with one banner and throw all the marketing dollars behind it, rather than split branding efforts between two conventional store brands? Provigo may be the better choice because it is a Quebec institution.

One reason Provigo didn't get much attention in the last few years is Loblaw was focused on getting its discount Maxi and Maxi & Cie banners ready to compete against Walmart, which was gearing up to introduce its full-grocery Supercentre format to Quebec.

With Walmart now in the province for two years, Loblaw is turning its attention to Provigo. Not only are the stores being upgraded, but many Provigos are being turned over to franchisees as well.

READ: Loblaw to spend $100 million in Quebec

Meanwhile, the first new Provigo store in years is set to open in Sherbrooke this summer.

If all works out, Loblaw could have a hit on its hands–one sung by a familiar star.

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