Popular Filipino Grocery Chain ‘Seafood City’ to Open Stores Across Canada

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By Mario Toneguzzi

California-based Filipino grocery chain Seafood City sees huge market potential in Canada as it plans its upcoming expansion across the country in conjunction with fast food phenom Jollibee.

Eucliff Cheng, marketing manager for the company based in Ponoma, said Seafood City is an Asian, Filipino format catering to mostly Filipino customers.

“Now it’s become a one-stop shopping and dining destination and also a retail hub that caters to the Asian and Filipino lifestyle in the U.S. and now in Canada,” said Cheng.

“Definitely, we hope to be able to serve all the Filipino communities and there’s quite a few that are in Canada. I understand that Filipino immigrants are the second largest ethnic group immigrating to Canada. So opportunities abound.”

Seafood City rendering, Image: Seafood City

Seafood City rendering, Image: Seafood City

According to the 2016 census, there were 837,130 Filipinos in Canada.

Seafood City started in 1989 in the San Diego area. Today, there are 26 stores in the United States and the sole Canadian store is at the Heartland Towne Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.

The Canadian store opened in September 2017 in 50,000 square feet of space. It has a full-service supermarket, fresh seafood, meat and produce departments, groceries with dry goods. It also has a food service group of fast food restaurants that include Grill City, Noodle Street, CrispyTown and Jollibee, which opened in August.

The store also includes Valerio’s Tropical Bakeshop, TFC (The Filipino Channel), Atlas International Courier, and the Philippine National Bank.

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“It’s pretty much a one-stop shop for Filipinos to get all they need and all they like to eat,” said Cheng.

He said a new store is currently being developed in Winnipeg with the plan to have it ready by 2019. The store is in the Garden City Shopping Centre in space vacated by Sears. The Winnipeg Seafood City supermarket will also have a Jollibee in place. 

Greg Rabin of brokerage Paracom Realty negotiated the Mississauga and Winnipeg deals, and represents the brand in its continued Canadian expansion. 

“Definitely after Winnipeg we are looking into other locations with a healthy percentage of Filipino residents,” said Cheng.

Going forward, the Seafood City locations in Canada would also include Jollibee restaurants.

SCarborough Jollibee location opening. Photo: Jollibee Canada Facebook

SCarborough Jollibee location opening. Photo: Jollibee Canada Facebook

Photo: Jollibee Canada Facebook

Photo: Jollibee Canada Facebook

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Recently the popular fast food chain said the company is planning to open 100 locations in Canada in the next five years. Currently, there is a store in Scarborough, one in Mississauga and two in Winnipeg.

The Scarborough store opened in April. The first Winnipeg store opened in December 2016 with the second store opening at the end of November 2017.

When asked if future expansion of Seafood City in Canada would include Jollibees in each location, Cheng replied: “We are in a very close partnership. They are in all of our locations. I don’t see any reason why not.”

He said Seafood City offers Canadian consumers something very unique.

“We have fresh seafood that you don’t typically see in a mainstream store. We are mostly typically smaller size fish and our meat cuts are also generally cut for Asian, Filipino dishes. That being said, produce as well. We offer Asian produce and it being a hub for the Asian, Filipino population,” said Cheng.

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“It’s really different when you walk in from a mainstream supermarket. We do carry mainstream items as part of our selection but the main difference would be the items that we have for our target audience.”

On its website, the company says it has become a cultural icon to both Filipinos here and abroad.

“To Filipino-American households, the supermarket has become part of the weekly schedule, a regular stop for groceries and flavorful Pinoy meals. To their relatives in the Philippines, the brand name is a familiar one, often heard about from lolos and lolas talking about their lives in the US during visits home,” it says.

“To the local American community, Seafood City Supermarket is known as a company that provides opportunities to Filipino-Americans and other communities alike. And through its prominent work with various non-profit groups and charities, Seafood City Supermarket also proves that the value of kawanggawa is indelible to the Filipino wherever he may be.

“Seafood City Supermarket has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1989 to establishing itself as the premier Filipino supermarket chain in North America. But it has grown into something more than that.

Now, the words “Seafood City” are spoken of among Filipino-Americans in the same breath as words such as “community”. Above all, the most meaningful reason that people come to Seafood City is simply that: it’s good to be home.”

Landlords interested in Seafood City may contact Greg Rabin of brokerage Paracom Realty [Contact Page with phone/email etc]

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com

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