Skip to main content

Sobeys Express comes to Nova Scotia

Convenience store format offers fresh options for on-the-go consumers

A new concept for convenience shopping is in the Maritimes.

That's how Sobeys officials described today's grand opening of the new Sobeys Express outlet–the first in what they hope will be a string of modern convenience stores that serve fast but healthy food and fuel across the region.

"We're delighted to say the least," Valerie Ryan, Sobeys' vice-president of convenience and fuel, told Canadian Grocer. "The team's worked really hard and from early reports it looks like we've hit the mark with consumers."

Located off Exit 33 of the Trans-Canada Highway (Nova Scotia's Highway 104) in Antigonish, the new store combines a wide selection of traditional grocery store items with healthier, ready-to-eat snacks and meals, plus Shell-brand gas.

READ: Sobeys Extra banner stretches to Atlantic Canada

Modeled on Sobeys Quebec's Shell-tied IGA Express banner, which was introduced two years ago this month, the new store offers everything from rotisserie chickens and freshly-made salads, to 14 kinds of all-butter croissant sandwiches, three sizes of "Sensations by Compliments" hot soups, and cookies and baguettes baked daily in-store.

Opened softly on Saturday, it also offers a meal deal that rewards travellers who buy a sandwich, drink and snack with two cents off per litre of fuel at any of Sobeys' 30 Fast Fuel and 77 Shell locations across Atlantic Canada. All store and pump purchases also earn Air Miles reward miles.

According to Ryan, Sobeys plans to slowly expand the concept across the Maritimes with a mix of new-build and renovated stores at many of its 23 corporate-owned Shell stations, and its dealer network of 54 stations.

It seems Sobeys has a laser focus on Eastern Canada. Last month, it introduced its first Extra banner store in Tantallon, a Halifax suburb, with plans to open two more in Saint John. N.B. and the Halifax region.

READ: In Quebec, a new way to mix gas and grocery

Ryan said Sobeys Express will help set the Canadian grocery giant apart from traditional convenience retailers on its home turf.

"We did a lot of consumer research in Atlantic Canada (and) found customers want better on-the-go choices," she said.  "In that regards, Sobeys Express delivers."

Gilbert Chouinard agrees.  The owner of the IGA Extra store in St. Anne de Beaupré, a 20-minute drive east of Quebec City, he opened the second of the seven IGA Express locations now in operation in la belle province in the spring of 2014.

"I've extremely happy, sales are super good, way beyond our expectations," Chouinard said about his location, which combines groceries, prepared foods, gas and even a car wash.

READ: Sobeys unveils its latest store, with food discovery and more

That is what Claude Tessier, president of Sobeys Quebec, was convinced would happen when the first IGA Express store opened in Dec. 2013.

In an interview then with Canadian Grocer, Tessier said the impetus for the concept was the purchase a year earlier by Sobeys of 205 Shell stations in Quebec.

He and two company executives–Pierre St-Laurent, first president principal business development, and Guy Terroux, VP marketing–made a half-dozen trips to Europe and across North America to visit stores and see convenience food retail trends.

“We were really influenced by (England’s Marks & Spencer’s) Simply Food concept,” Tessier said.

That concept notably features a cornerstone of both the Sobeys Quebec and Atlantic Express concepts: grab-and-go prepared foods made with fresh, quality ingredients.


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds