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Wal-Mart addresses cultural differences in Quebec


Wal-Mart took its time moving into the Quebec grocery market, realizing that its consumers are different from those in the rest of Canada, with consumers more focused on quality of food and the emotions surrounding it.

It tested the Ontario and Western Canada markets with its Supercentres before rolling out the concept into la belle province this summer.

With the planned rollout of six Wal-Mart Supercentres in Quebec, a seventh store is expected to be added soon. Some say Wal-Mart has invested more than $80 million on new stores in Quebec.

Already the retailer is in discussion with 120 potential vendors to ensure there’s the appropriate selection for Quebec consumers. Wal-Mart said it wants to do business with Quebec food suppliers and source at least 30 per cent of fresh items locally. There is also plans on constructing a new distribution centre to serve suppliers in Quebec.

Supercentres are planned for St. Jérôme, Mascouche, St. Eustache, Vaudreuil and two in Laval, but future locations on the island of Montreal, are also of interest to the retailer.

The Supercentres will compete with well-established chains such as Metro’s Super C, Provigo’s Maxi and Loblaws.

Experts such as Perry Caicco of CIBC World Markets say the impact of Supercentres in Quebec will be minimal at first, with no threat to Metro, the grocery leader in the province.

The main challenge Wal-Mart could face is the unionized grocery environment in Quebec with the strong presence of the United Food and Commercial Workers.

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