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By Adam Ramsay

Stellarton, Nova Scotia based Sobeys has announced plans to open new, small-format grocery stores that will offer ready-to-eat meals as well as a “table ready in 20” section of quick meal solutions for shoppers on the go. The stores, called 'IGA Express', will also feature a Shell service station, and are described as “a cross between a supermarket, a convenience store and a fast food restaurant.”  The first four locations have already opened in Quebec, and can be found in the communities of Franklin, Lebanon, Trenton and Monroe.

Sobeys plans to open 60 IGA Express locations over the next five years (averaging about one per month). It will spend roughly $100 million to do so. Stores will be 3,500-4,000 square feet, only about 10% the size of a regular IGA Extra store. 

Sobeys says the new stores will be run by independent retailers, and are the result of ongoing worldwide research of the best grocery formats in existence. The chain added that it plans to roll out an even smaller version of their new express format, 'IGA Mini', in some existing full-size IGA locations.

It's been a big 2013 for Canada's second-largest food retailer. In addition to teaming up with Target to supply their new 124 stores with grocery items through the Sobeys distribution network, they've purchased the Safeway chain of stores in Western Canada, and have finalized the acquisition of the above-mentioned Shell gas stations in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. They've also sold off their Theatre business (through parent company Empire) to Cineplex and have recently opened the first of their new 'Sobeys Extra' format stores in Burlington, Ontario. Earlier this fall it was announced that long-time company executive Marc Poulin - who became the President of Sobeys in June 2012 - would take over as the head of parent company Empire with the retirement of Paul Sobey. 


[Sobeys website]

[IGA Express website (including info used for this article)]