By Mario Toneguzzi
Retailer Giant Tiger has broken ground on its flagship store and new office in Ottawa which will serve as the company’s national hub for operations as it embarks on ambitious expansion plans across Canada.
The new 173,800-square-foot office and 31,000-square-foot store on Walkley Road will support the discount retailer’s growth strategy which commits to opening 10 to 15 stores per year across Canada.
The new store will open in the fall of 2020 and the office by mid-winter of 2021
"Our new home office and flagship store on Walkley Road represent an investment in our future and will help us meet the needs of our expanding store count, while delivering even better value to our customers, vendors, and franchisees," said Thomas Haig, President and Chief Operating Officer at Giant Tiger. "Ottawa will always be home for Giant Tiger. We opened our first store in the ByWard Market in 1961, and our headquarters have been here on Walkley Road since 1996.”
Giant Tiger says it anticipates its home office employee count to grow from 400 to 700 over the next decade as it continues to expand across the country. To keep up with this growth, Giant Tiger moved its distribution centre from Walkley Road to a new facility in Johnstown, Ontario, beginning in the fall of 2018 and completed in January of this year.
“We’ve been enjoying some pretty solid growth and have continued to grow by approximately 10 to 15 stores annually and with that growth we were outgrowing our distribution capacity here in Ottawa for non-perishable product,” said Paul Wood, the company’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, who will be taking over the role of President and COO as of August 9, replacing the retiring Haig.
“We had a couple of different facilities here that we were using in Ottawa and it was time to add more space and we determined that being somewhere in the Eastern Ontario region along the (Highway) 401 corridor was a better epicentre for distribution for our store network to service our franchise stores . . . We built a 600,000-square-foot distribution centre there complete with a number of elements of robotics and advanced technology inside the facility to support our growth and our continued development as a store network.”
Giant Tiger is the leading Canadian-owned family discount store, committed to providing on-trend family fashions, groceries and everyday household needs. The privately-held company, by founder Gordon Reid and his family, has 254 locations across Canada and employs approximately 9,000 people. It also has an online shopping platform at gianttiger.com. All Giant Tiger locations are locally owned or operated by people who know their respective communities.
The first store was opened in May 1961 on George Street in Ottawa’s Byward Market where it still exists today.
Wood said another four stores are scheduled to open over the next couple of months in Halifax, Levis (Quebec), LaSalle (Quebec) and Kingston.
“At present we are from Alberta to P.E.I. We are not yet in British Columbia or Newfoundland but exploring our options for future expansion,” said Wood.
“We’ve been planning and continue to plan carefully as to where we grow, where we expand. About five years ago we underwent what was called our new store experience renovation. So all of our existing stores were kind of brought up to a current standard and the content that you see today. And our new stores have been built to that standard going forward. It’s really continuing to look for opportunities where Canadians are and we aren’t to continue to offer our great low prices and consistent quality of merchandise, national brands and house brands, to more Canadians across the country.”
Wood said the company believes it has room for more than 300 stores across the country.
Giant Tiger obviously is resonating with today’s consumer.
“We believe that we continue to offer a very convenient shop for our customers. We maintain a relatively small footprint compared to some of our larger competitors. We continue to drive great value and low prices for our customers. We believe our product offering on trend fashion and seasonal products and home goods and great grocery products for the family provide a great one-stop shop for our customers,” said Wood.
“We also believe having our franchise owners in the store provide a great shopping experience for our customers and just that local community experience and relationship that we build in each community that we go into across the country.”
The company’s new office will be a modern four-storey building built to LEED specifications and primarily glass, with plenty of light and airy spaces including a central atrium. All workstations and meeting rooms will be equipped with the latest technology.
"We want our employees to enjoy coming to work every day, and that's why we designed the new office to have amenities such as a full floor cafeteria and coffee bar, gym, games room, collaborative spaces, and underground parking," said Haig. "We are a people first company and this new building reflects this commitment.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.