Sobeys to rebrand Co-op Atlantic stores

Transaction approved by Competition Bureau earlier this month

Sobeys is converting five former corporately-owned Co-op Atlantic food stores into Foodland and Clover Farm stores.

The move comes on the heels of Sobeys’ purchase of Co-op Atlantic’s grocery and gas business, a deal approved by Co-op Atlantic members in May.

The transaction has now been approved by the Competition Bureau, says Shauna Selig, manager of communications and corporate affairs at Sobeys.

“We are always looking for opportunities to strategically grow our business,” says Selig.

Locations in Quispamsis and Sackville, New Brunswick, Milford, Nova Scotia and Charlottetown, PEI are being converted into Foodland stores, while a North Rustico, PEI store is becoming a Clover Farm.

As well, four former corporate Co-op gas bars are being converted to Shell stations and one is becoming a Fast Fuel.

Sobeys turned down the opportunity to buy four other corporately-owned Co-op Atlantic food stores in PEI, Labrador and New Brunswick.  “After reviewing the markets, it was determined that these sites didn’t fit with our long-term business plans in those areas,” Selig says.

In addition, Sobeys is now supplying food to all but two of 48 member-owned Co-op locations and is close to finalizing long-term supply or franchise agreements with them. Stores in Gander and Clarenville, Newfoundland opted to go with another supplier.

Sobeys noted that member-owned Co-op stores will continue to operate as co-operatives but that customers will see improvements in product selection and programs as stores make the transition to the new supply agreement.

“Stores signing on with Sobeys Atlantic will run the Foodland banner programs,” Selig says. As member-owned sites sign on with the Foodland programs, they will carry Sobeys private label products, she says.

Separate agreements are in place for 14 Co-op stores that have signed on with Sobeys Quebec.

“Co-op Atlantic has a long-standing history in the Atlantic region and like Sobeys, was built on the foundation of strong support for local suppliers and the local community,” said Marc Poulin, president and CEO of Sobeys, in a statement. “This partnership allows the co-operative movement to continue to prosper and to serve customers and members here in Atlantic Canada.”

Poulin added that Sobeys Atlantic and Quebec teams will make it a priority to collaborate with and support member-owned Co-op stores in Atlantic Canada through the transition period. “We want to see them continue to succeed and serve their communities, while also keeping the co-operative business model thriving.”

Co-op Atlantic decided to sell its food and retail gas business in the face of a weakened financial picture due to years of increased competition. It is now  reviewing the future of its agriculture, petroleum and housing assets.

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