Top Canadian Grocery Chains

Several large and widely known supermarket chains operate on the domestic market in Canada. The Superstore, Sobeys, Metro, and Safeway are some of the grocery chains offering diverse selection of grocery products, clothing, electronics, equipment, and many other goods.

Loblaws and Real Canadian Superstores, No Frills are chains of supermarkets and hypermarkets owned by the Canadian largest food retailer - Loblaw Companies Ltd. Loblaws chain was founded by Theodore Loblaw in Brampton, Ontario, in 1919. The stores were operating on the territory of Canada until the early 1970s when most of the locations, except those in Ontario and Quebec, were re-branded as SuperValu and subsequently as Real Canadian Superstore, simply known as the RCSS or the Superstore. Although Loblaws and RCSS are regarded as two separate chains, the new Ontario and Quebec stores have been opened under a combined banner: “Superstore: Loblaw/Real Canadian” or The Loblaw Superstore.

On the whole, Loblaw Companies Ltd. encompasses more than 1,000 corporate and franchised stores, approximately 400 associate stores and nearly 4,700 independent stores. The stores sell a wide variety of goods, mainly groceries. In addition, about one third of the stores’ space is devoted to housewares, electronics and clothing. Houseware and clothing products sold in Loblaws are mainly private labels, such as President’s Choice, Joe fresh, Life at Home, etc. The stores also provide various corporate-branded services, such as DrugStore pharmacies, PhotoLab phot finishing, etc. The cornerstone of the Loblaw’s success is the low prices strategy.

Sobeys is the second-largest grocery chain in Canada since the late 1990s when it acquired the IGA franchise by purchasing the Oshawa Group Ltd. (IGA is a name used by independent grocery stores worldwide). Sobeys operates more than 1,300 stores under various banners throughout the country including the smaller discount grocery chain Price Chopper, the Foodland chain, Thrifty Foods chain, Tradition Markets and Food Town stores. Each of these smaller chains and stores is operating in a couple of provinces.

Today, the chain is a division of the conglomerate corporation Empire Company Ltd., which purchased the chain in 2007 – exactly one hundred years after Sobeys was founded in Stellarton, Nova Scotia by John Sobey. With the aim of bolstering customer service in the early 2000s, Sobeys undertook a number of major initiatives including new effective customer service policies and changes in its stores design and advertising strategy. However, they resulted in the development of several sub-brands of the Sobeys private label – “Compliments” – as well.

Metro is a large Canadian grocery chain with nearly 400 stores in Quebec and Ontario where it is the second-largest food retailer after Loblaw Companies Ltd. (Canadian Metro Inc. is not affiliated with the German Metro AG). Super C is the discount supermarket division of Metro in Quebec while in Ontario, the discount grocery stores operate under the Food Basics brand. Metro owns more than 140 convenience stores operating under the Marche Richelieu banner.

Safeway is the third largest grocery chain in North America, with over 200 stores in Canada, mainly in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. The most famous Safeway current brands include: Primo Taglio – for deli products, Lucerne – the major dairy line, O Organics – for organically grown foods, etc.