While Loblaw has just developed a new concept for Provigo Le Marché in Kirkland, which gives the impression of being in a food court, the company since the beginning of the year in Quebec has closed dozens of brands to convert it to Maxi, the discount chain it also owns.
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Provigo stores in Montreal’s Parc-Extension, Trois-Rivières, and Sherbrooke are part of the lot. Le Blau currently has 77 Provigo supermarkets in Quebec, 70 of which are owned by franchisees. By the end of the year, four more stores will be converted to Maxi. The idea was to “make sure we get the best offer that matches the demographics of a sector or neighborhood,” explains Journalism Johann Herroux, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs and Corporate Communications, at the official opening Thursday of the fully transformed Provigo Le Marché in Kirkland.
However, with this completely new concept – an investment of 5.6 million – where takeaway steals the show, new Provigo stores can open, which have not been seen in several years, confirms MI Herox. “In all humility, I tell you, we’ll probably be copied,” says Pascal Luzon, Senior Managing Director, proudly pointing to the many ready-to-eat counters while visiting the store.
As you enter the grocery store, you can’t miss the chance to see the pizza bar advertised in bright lettering on a brick wall. In addition to colorful salads, salmon fillets and ready-made vegetables, not to mention the sushi section, just meters away. A counter of poutines and crushed ham will be added to this soon. The store tripled its takeaway range.
In most traditional supermarkets, the fruit and vegetable section is usually the section that greets customers as they enter their cart. However, at the Kirkland store, it’s the ready-to-eat produce counters that steal the show. Note that consumers can pay for their meal directly at the pizza or sushi counter, for example. Thus it avoids queues at checkout of customers who come to their supermarket. Soon, consumers will be able to order their meals from home and have it delivered through DoorDash. “We really wanted to create this restaurant environment,” Luzon says.
Starting this summer, Provigo will be transforming at L’Île-des-Sœurs to offer the same kind of experience. Others may follow. “This is where we want to go,” adds Jason Ole, Kirkland Store Manager. “The grocery store is the same everywhere. That’s why we’ve optimized the offer of fresh produce: for lunch, dinner, adults and kids.”
Here the competition is fierce. Consumers can choose between several brands: IGA, Metro and Walmart. The franchisor does not own a Kirkland supermarket and serves as a “laboratory” for Lublow.
Oddly enough, with the renovations, the store has been reduced in size, while it is usually the opposite. The space went from 80,000 square feet to 61,000 square feet. According to Jason Ouellet, it’s no longer the trend for megastores. “It sucks when you’re in frozen food and realize you forgot about bananas.”
On the other hand, the number of products offered has increased. With this Provigo added 3600 products, 2500 of which are from Quebec. Nearly 140 new local suppliers have been added to the list. To make room for these novelties in a smaller space, the company decided to reduce the number of products of the same brand on the shelves.
To increase the space, Joe Fresh’s clothing store, operated by LeBlow, has moved to the second floor.
The trend towards ready-made foods
The diversity of the ready-to-eat product offering has increased over the years, and this confirms other brands. “In 2018, we launched Tout Prêt tout frais,” confirms Genevieve Gregoire, a Metro spokesperson. Takeaway is an important category for us. Under the brand name, the Quebec brand sells its ready-made products in stores.
“There are many more varieties than there were a few years ago,” says Anne-Hélène Lavoie, an IGA spokeswoman, adding that the service is very “popular” with consumers.
Provigo in a few characters
Number of stores: 77 (supposed to have 73 left at the end of the year)
Number of stores owned by franchisees 70
Kirkland Warehouse Area: 61,000 sq. ft.
Number of employees: 320
Investment: 5.6 million
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