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Provigo hopes to score with the Habs


Quebec grocery chain Provigo has inked a multi-year deal to sponsor the Montreal Canadiens and the NHL team’s home rink, the Bell Centre.

The deal comes at the start of the lockout-shortened 48-game NHL season and at a time when Provigo’s parent company, Loblaw, is looking to convert more Provigo stores to franchises.

Pierre Dandoy, senior vice-president of operations for Provigo and Loblaws stores in Quebec, said the Habs deal makes perfect sense.

“This team holds a special place in the hearts of Quebecers, and Provigo is proud to be associated with this organization, which shares important social involvement and community values, and which has been a great source of pride for several generations,” Dandoy (left in photo above with Canadiens' head coach Michel Therrien) said.

As part of the arrangement, Provigo and President’s Choice banners will appear on rink boards behind the opposing goalie’s net during two periods of Canadiens games at the Bell Centre.

The President’s Choice banner will appear during games against other Canadian teams. The Provigo banner will be shown when the Habs play against American teams.

“This is going to give us significant visibility in the rinks,” said Provigo’s senior director of corporate affairs and communication, Hugues Mousseau.

The grocer’s ads will also appear on the Jumbotron at the Bell Centre and Provigo is sponsoring public practices being held by the Canadiens. Those practice events draw up to 14,000 Habs fans.

There will also be an opportunity for in-store promotions incorporating the Habs. “Our customers are basically fans of the Canadiens,” Mousseau said.

Metro had previously been the grocery sponsor of the Montreal Canadiens.

The Montreal Canadiens finished dead last in the NHL’s Eastern Conference last year and are rebuilding this year. They lost their first game of the season on Saturday, 2-1 to Toronto.

Provigo, meanwhile, is undergoing some changes of its own. As part of a relatively new strategy, Loblaw is converting corporate-run Provigo stores to a franchise arrangement. Eleven stores were switched to franchises in 2012, with more planned this year.

The franchise strategy is the right one for Provigo, Mousseau said. “Our franchisees are extremely rooted in their community.” In fact, he said, Loblaw wants Provigo franchisees to live in the communities where they operate stores.

Of the 78 Provigos stores, 46 are franchised, 22 are corporate-run and 10 are independent affiliated stores.

This is not the first time Provigo has been affiliated with the Montreal Canadiens. The retailer sponsored the team during the 1980s and early 1990s. That partnership ended in 1994-95, which was also an NHL season that was shortened due to labour strife.

The Habs won the Stanley Cup the previous year, in 1993, but have not won another since.

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