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Provigo Le Marché emphasizes local, from wine to prosciutto

Loblaw's first Provigo Le Marché store in Sherbrooke has only in Quebec features, with a wide variety of fresh

Loblaw has opened its first Provigo Le Marché concept store in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

The newly built store echoes the design of Loblaw’s Maple Leaf Gardens store in Toronto–from an orange floor to a 12 foot high wall of cheese–but adds "only in Quebec" elements.

“The concept has been adapted to the needs of Quebecers,” said Pierre Dandoy, senior vice-president of operations for Provigo and Loblaw stores in Quebec of the 43,000-square-foot store, located in Sherbrooke’s Cité du Parc neighbourhood.

VIEW: Gallery of Provigo Le Marché store

Customers entering the store are greeted with a sugary high–a large section with eight-feet of cupcakes, large chunks of chocolate, pastries, cake and danish section along with a cappuccino and espresso bar.

“It’s really a market,” said Dandoy of the store, and the sweets at the entrance serve as a form of entertainment for customers.

A large sushi bar follows suit. “Sushi has become one of the most consumed foods by young people in Quebec,” Dandoy said.

There’s also a high-end ready to eat section with a chef on duty and choices like pizza, sandwiches, deli foods and salads. A wall of cheese features more than 300 varieties of Quebec cheese and there is an in-store Ace Bakery.

An emphasis has been placed on organic fruit and vegetables, which “Quebecers are eating more and more of.”

The fish counter includes a “pick and choose” oyster and shrimp bar and the 24-foot meat counter has several marinated meats and aged beef (a relatively new category in Quebec).

Dandoy says the store sells 1,000 new regional and local products and there are large sections for everything from wine and microbrewed beers to prosciutto.

Dandoy said a focus has been put on customer service and that Provigo has created a form of in-house academy in which specialists and suppliers train employees. The new Provigo Le Marché has created 90 new jobs.

However, prior to its opening, two Provigo outlets in Sherbrooke (Belvédère Street and Promenades King) were closed, a move that was protested by nearby shoppers via a 600-signature petition that was submitted to Sherbrooke city council last month.

In response, Provigo has established a free shuttle bus service every Wednesday to pick up shoppers at senior citizens homes. Seniors will get a 10% discount on purchases that day, with students getting the same discount on Mondays.

The Sherbrooke store is the only Provigo Le Marché to open in a new building this year, said Hugues Mousseau, corporate affairs spokesperson at Provigo. The next Provigo Le Marché opens in late August in Kirkland on Montreal’s West Island, in a former Loblaw outlet.

Dandoy refused to divulge the cost of the new store, which is part of a $100 million investment slated for Provigo, Loblaw and Maxi stores in Quebec.

Meanwhile, there is speculation the Provigo Le Marché banner will eventually replace all Loblaw outlets in Quebec.

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