One of Montreal’s largest wholesale distributors and importers is leaving its 12-year-old, rented headquarters in the central market.

President George Pitsikoulis said Canadawide is moving to a new building just west, along Highway 40.

The first phase of the building is now complete, Pitsikoulis said. It brings together half the company’s storage facilities and adds 20,000 feet of production space to expand the Frescadel packaging program.

While the original plan was to construct phase two after the company’s lease in the central market expired in about eight years, he said the plan was accelerated recently after Canadawide struck an agreement with its landlord, owner of the Marche Central shopping center next door.

“The agreement enables us to leave sooner rather than later,” Pitsikoulis said.

He said Canadawide expects to complete the second phase of the construction project by the end of 2013.

“Then we will have our entire operation under one roof,” he said.

Pitsikoulis said he understands the building he currently occupies and the parking lot around it will be demolished and the space will be home to a new retail anchor and smaller retail stores.

The agreement has left the grower’s market across the parking lot pondering its future.

Andre Plante, general manager of the Quebec Produce Growers Association, said his group plans to conduct a large, comprehensive $100,000 study involving everyone who uses the market, from growers and distributors to customers.

“Buyers may say they want something new and different, or they don’t like the access to the market,” he said.

“We want a forum with all the players to decide what we should do for the future.”