TORONTO — Loblaw Cos. here has begun taking what it learned from its acquisition last year of the T&T Supermarket ethnic chain and apply that to its traditional store base.
Speaking at the CIBC World Markets Retail & Consumer Conference, which took place here last week, Allan L. Leighton, president and deputy chairman of Loblaw, said the Canadian supermarket chain has begun adding Asian produce items from T&T to select Loblaw Superstores in Western Canada and its No Frill stores in areas with high Asian populations.
“I think it's the beginning of a big learning process for us,” Leighton said, when asked about the company's ethnic strategy. “It's completely different business than the one that we are used to — the retail is exactly the same; it's just a different product base. And they are very well integrated. We run them completely separately, and they just take anything they want from the mainstream business.”
Loblaw acquired the 17-store T&T chain, based in Richmond, British Columbia, last September.
Also at the conference, Perry Caicco, an analyst at CIBC, outlined some emerging trends in food retailing in Canada in the wake of the recession.
One of the impacts of the economic downturn has been a cutback in retail square footage growth, with a corresponding focus on remodels instead.
“I think the state of the physical plant across the country today is light years better than it was three or four years ago,” he said.
He also cited a “distinct trend towards smaller stores.”
“Everybody is, I think, trying to figure out how to do more productive business and how to sort out what a small store looks like, and we've seen some pretty innovative early attempts.”
Another trend is the increased emphasis by retailers on loyalty programs and data analysis, he said.
“There are a lot of companies that have an active program that I think had a leg up throughout the recession,” he said. “Other companies have a card program, but they are not using the data. So the question is how do you use that to build a more efficient store and get it to your customer in a more efficient way.”