TORONTO — Shoppers in Ontario this week will be introduced to a new store banner and a new slogan as Metro Inc. launches a 15-month effort to consolidate all of its conventional stores in the province under a single brand.
The Metro nameplate — and its new slogan, “Food at its Best” — are to be revealed at six Dominion stores on Friday, Sept. 26, according to Eric LaFleche, president and chief executive officer of Metro, speaking at the Scotia Capital Back to School conference here last week. LaFleche said the conversions — planned to continue at a rate of five or six stores a week — will accompany merchandising and product assortment improvements that shoppers will notice.
Montreal-based Metro is making the change to create a unified brand and generate advertising and operational efficiencies among a chain assembled through acquisitions — notably Loeb in 1999 and A&P in 2005. It will also facilitate the exchange of best practices with its conventional stores under its eponymous banner in Quebec, he said.
Metro plans to convert all stores under the Dominion, The Barn and Ultra Food banners by the end of the year before moving on to the Loeb and A&P brands.
“We feel one strong brand will be in much better shape than five brands,” LaFleche said. “It's all about execution and store conditions, and as we change the stores to Metro, the consumers are really going to see a difference.”
LaFleche said Metro intends to spend nearly $200 million as part of the rebranding effort. While a small percentage of stores are scheduled to receive major renovations, all stores will see merchandising and assortment adjustments.
“For many of these stores, the improvement will come in the merchandising, the offer and the assortment rather than the physical plant,” he explained. Stores scheduled for more significant investment are those budgeted for capital improvements anyway.
The new slogan, he added, is “clean, simple and a call to action for our staff. I think consumers will understand it too.”
Metro announced its intention to rebrand its Ontario stores more than a year ago but delayed the implementation as it tackled more pressing issues in the province, LaFleche said. These included getting A&P stores onto its information technology platform, and a price war that erupted among discounters as a defense against Wal-Mart's introduction of supercenters there. The implementation of the branding effort indicates Metro is moving beyond these issues.
“Now we're on solid footing, and it's time to do it,” LaFleche said.
Metro will keep Food Basics as its Ontario discount brand, but those stores have also been getting attention, LaFleche noted. Drawing on the success — and some key staff — of its Super-C banner in Quebec, Food Basics has refined its offering to focus more on food and recently introduced an updated logo, LaFleche said. Departments for dollar goods and apparel have been removed from those stores, he said.