Austin, Texas-based natural and organic supermarket chain Whole Foods has announced that it will open three stores in Western Canada, as it continues its Canadian store expansion. Whole Foods is working with a brokerage to secure more locations and we're told that further store announcements will be made shortly.
Whole Foods will open in Edmonton, Calgary and in suburban Victoria, and its Alberta stores will be the first for that province. Its Edmonton store, measuring 42,000 square feet, will be located at South Park Centre at 3803 Calgary Trail South. Its Victoria store, measuring 40,000 square feet, will be located at 3587 Blanchard Street in the Uptown development in Saanich. Both stores will open in the fall of 2016. Further details on the Calgary location will be released this June, and it will open in the summer of 2017.
Whole Foods currently operates four stores in B.C., with two Vancouver-area stores under development. A store in Burnaby will open this August, and a North Vancouver store is expected to open in the summer of 2017.
Real estate brokerage Northwest Atlantic is handling Whole Foods' Canadian store expansion, except for those located in British Columbia. Sources confirm that the brokerage has been in talks with multiple landlords across the country, with more store announcements expected soon. Some speculate that Whole Foods may take advantage of some vacated Target store space, though likely only partial locations since Target's Canadian stores are generally twice the size of typical Whole Foods locations.
Whole Foods' co-CEO, Walter Robb, says that the company is looking to add a further 30 stores in Canada, with locations coast-to-coast. Its first location outside of metro Vancouver and Toronto opened last November in Ottawa.
Whole Foods entered the Canadian market in 2002 with a 40,000 square foot location at Toronto's Hazelton Lanes, in the city's upscale Yorkville area. Since then, four more stores have opened in the Greater Toronto Area. In 2007 Whole Foods bought the parent company of Vancouver-based grocery store Capers, paving the way for four Vancouver Whole Foods locations.
Founded in 1980 in Austin, Whole Foods currently operates 408 stores throughout the world, including 399 American stores and nine in the United Kingdom. It currently has 116 stores in development. The company employs about 87,000 people and last year had sales of U.S. $14.2 billion. Stores sell an average of almost U.S. $1,000 per square foot - higher than most grocery chains, though still less than organic grocer Trader Joe's, which sees sales of almost U.S. $1,750 per square foot.
Whole Foods will face competition from a variety of upscale Canadian grocers, including Urban Fare in Western Canada. Vancouver-based Urban Fare is in the process of expanding its store base, including its first Calgary location just south of downtown.
We'll keep you updated on Whole Foods' expansion, including the location of its first Calgary store.