Pomme Natural Market has big aspirations

Upstart independent grocer plans to open 10 stores in the next 10 years

The four owners of the small Pomme Natural Market chain in B.C. have an ambitious goal: to open 10 stores in 10 years.

And they’re off to a strong start. Pomme opened the doors to its first location last January, a 16, 000 sq. ft. expansion and renovation of a shuttered 8,000 sq. ft. Planet Organic in Port Coquitlam.

A second 5,000 sq. ft store opened earlier this year on Vancouver’s Davie Street. Next up, Pomme will rebrand Nanaimo’s Island Natural Market, acquired in February.

Whether by takeover or new construction, Pomme co-owner Craig Hermanson told Canadian Grocer that the company aims to sell "everything a conventional retailer would, but all natural or organic."

Hermanson’s 25-year retail career includes working in a series of roles at Overwaitea's Save-On-Foods and as a store manager with Planet Organic.

Eventually he decided that “I could do it better on my own” and went on to co-found a natural supermarket, Mother Nature’s Market, which Hermanson said is still going today.

He left Mother Nature’s in January 2013 and went on to join forces with Rasool Rayani, Dave Arnsdorf and Ed Low, entrepreneurs who also have an extensive retail background, to open Pomme.

One of Pomme Market’s distinct features is its contemporary design. A living wall of plants is found at the entrance of the Port Coquitlam location, and eye catching rainbow tiles line the floors.

But for the four owners, the focus is on the product. Hermanson said 95% of the products in Pomme Market are natural or organic. The stores stock over 20,000 different SKUs largely due to its range of supplements (pictured). Pomme also stocks its own line of seeds and grains.

Several Pomme stores are located near conventional supermarkets. For instance, the Port Coquitlam location sits kitty-corner to a Real Canadian Superstore and a Safeway, and the new Nanaimo location is close to a Superstore and Save-on-Foods.

“We find that if we can source our store near a large conventional grocer we can draw customers from them,” explained Hermanson. “With little overlap , there is not really that much competition. “

The owners' ambitious expansion plan is anchored in their mission to make “a better world through better food.”

Though Pomme's stores are all in B.C. at the moment, Hermanson said he isn't ruling out opening in other provinces. He also expects to start building ground-up stores, not just expansion through takeovers as has been the strategy to date.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds