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Overwaitea pushes for growth in the Prairies

Seven Save-On-Foods locations will open in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

A new grocery chain is coming to Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

On Thursday, more than 1,000 people came out to hear Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones announce his Vancouver-based company’s plans to open stores for the first time in the two provinces.

The announcement took place in the parking lot of the Northgate Shopping Centre in north Winnipeg in front of a former Zeller’s store–formerly the 40-year-old shopping centre’s anchor tenant–which will be transformed into one of three Save-On-Foods slated to open in Winnipeg in the fall of 2016.

New Save-On-Foods will also open in Regina (next spring), Saskatoon, Yorkton and Moose Jaw, all later in 2016.  The other Winnipeg stores will be in the south and west ends of the city.

“We currently have 146 stores in Alberta and British Columbia,” Jones told Canadian Grocer. “We are planning to open 60 more stores in the next little while, which will give us over 200 stores in western Canada.”

Save-On-Foods has been in operation on the west coast for over 100 years. Part of the Overwaitea Food Group (which is part of the Jim Pattison Group of companies), Save-On-Foods is Canada’s largest western Canadian-based grocery retailer.

The impetus for the company’s expansion eastward, Jones notes, was Sobey’s acquisition of Canada Safeway two years ago. “That means one less competitor for us and presented new opportunities,” Jones says.

Jones notes that Save-On-Foods’ marketing strategy is to customize its product offering to the demographics in the neighbourhoods that each store serves. To that end, one of the goals of the July 9 splash was to solicit ideas from people in the neighbourhood as to what products they would like to see on the shelves in the store in there are.

“We also try to source locally-made products,” Jones says.

Most of the new stores will be about 38,000 square feet. The Northgate store will be the exception. As an “international” store, it will measure about 65,000 square feet. The area has a large population of peoples from the Philippines and India.

“This (the Northgate store) will be a destination store,” Jones says. “It’s a great location, right in the heart of Winnipeg.”

He reports that construction on all seven new Winnipeg and Saskatchewan stores will begin shortly.

“We know what it takes to succeed in this business,” he says. “We are looking forward to building a solid foundation in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and developing close relationships with our customers in the two provinces.”

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