New upscale grocer Nations opens north of Toronto


On Tuesday, Nations Fresh Food Market "where East meets West" in a high-end designer concept store opened in Vaughan, a city north of Toronto.

Nations is the second banner under the Oceans Fresh Group, which runs three discount Oceans Fresh Food Markets west of Toronto.

The more than 50,000-square-foot store is looking to cater to all "nations", including European, Middle Eastern, Caribbean and Asian customers.

"We don't have a competitor," said Nation's store manager Ken Zhen. "We serve both old and new immigrants."

As soon as one enters the store, there is a world map in the floor design, and the store's warm brown, earth tone hues make the produce department pop.

True to its mission of East meeting West, customers can find Asian longan fruit, Italian and Sicilian eggplant, as well as South American cassava crop.

Over the next five years, Zhen said the company is looking to open 10 stores.

The second Nations' store is set to open in May 2013 in Hamilton, Ont. that will be 15,000-square-feet larger than the first store.

And Nations isn't stopping there.

Zhen said after its Canadian expansion, it is looking to open similar concept stores in the U.S., and said they are working with a U.S. grocery partner.

When it came to staffing the store, Nations turned to staffing its staff of more than 200 with locals.

It turned to community and employment centres in the region to fill positions.

A walk throughout the store offers a multi-ethnic fresh food shopping experience.

There is a butcher, a salted fish section, a fresh seafood area that is enclosed, a bakery, a ready-to-eat offering that includes dim sum alongside Peking duck and roasted pig.

The store also has there executive chefs on site preparing food daily.

We want to offer restaurant quality food at a grocery price, said Zhen.

Zhen added that Nations is focused on customer service first, ensuring "value and quality food" coexist and hopes to teach customers how to cook with fresh food from around the world.

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