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09/23/2013

Poll results: Should Sobeys keep the Safeway store banner?

When Sobeys announced back in June that it was buying Safeway’s stores in Canada, pundits immediately asked one question: Would Sobeys keep the Safeway banner?
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When Sobeys announced back in June that it was buying Safeway’s stores in Canada, pundits immediately asked one question: Would Sobeys keep the Safeway banner?

At the time, Sobeys executives said they hadn’t yet decided, and to date there’s been no further word on the subject.

How Sobeys handled past acquisitions didn’t provide us with many clues to what might be done. Sobeys retained the Thrifty’s banner after purchasing the B.C. chain a few years ago. But in other cases it has replaced existing banners with Sobeys.

Clearly Safeway has some value. The brand is respected by consumers and has been one of Western Canada’s most vaunted grocery names for generations. The first Safeway stores opened in B.C. in the 1920s, after all.

READ: How Sobeys purchase of Safeway will impact distribution infrastructure

But Sobeys isn’t unknown out West. There are 104 stores with the Sobeys name on the Prairies. Switching another 213 Safeway stores to Sobeys would provide immediate marketing punch.

It would also give the Sobeys name immediate recognition in British Columbia, where to date is hasn’t had presence.

Given Sobeys’ new marketing partnership with Jamie Oliver and new app, focusing on one banner would make some sense.

READ: Sobeys unveils its new brand positioning with Jamie Oliver

So what should Sobeys do? We asked our readers in our most recent Canadian Grocer online poll.

The results were split. But a significant minority of you said Sobeys should keep the Safeway banner on its stores.

Just over 37% of you agreed with our assessment that Safeway is a brand that has been trusted by shoppers for more than 80 years and Sobeys should continue to use it.

Another 11% said Safeway should be retained only if Sobeys spends big bucks to refresh it.

We were, frankly, surprised that only 32% of our readers thought that all Safeway stores should be converted to the Sobeys banner.

But we were intrigued by another idea: 20% of you said Sobeys should use this acquisition to introduce the FreshCo discount banner to Western Canada.

Canadians are increasingly turning to discount shopping and Western Canada doesn’t have nearly the discount grocery stores of, say, Ontario. FreshCo would be an interesting new disruptor to markets in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

So there you go, Sobeys. Just some thoughts from our readers to help you make your decision­–one way or the other.

This week's poll question: Which areas of the store are you looking to expand in next year? To answer, go to our home page. The poll is in the lower right corner.