Metro Inc. acquires Mediterranean retailer

11/29/2011 04:05:00 PM
Cynthia David

MONTREAL — Metro Inc., one of Canada’s big three grocery chains, has purchased a 55% stake in Marché Adonis, a leading Montreal food retailer offering Mediterranean favorites.

Chief executive officer Eric La Fleche said in a release that the sale, announced Oct. 26, will help Metro better meet the needs of the city’s many cultural communities and increase its share of the fast-growing ethnic market.

Adonis offers an array of Mediterranean foods and fresh produce. It owns four large-format stores in the Montreal region and is building a fifth in Brossard on the south shore.

The deal also includes Phoenicia Products, which imports and distributes Phoenicia and Cedar brand products to stores across Canada, including Metro. It has warehouses in Montreal and Toronto.

Adonis’ founders will continue to manage both companies, which have a total of 1,000 employees, La Fleche said.

Metro has more than 65,000 employees and more than $11 billion in annual sales. It operates more than 600 food stores in Quebec and Ontario under the Metro, Metro Plus, Super C and Food Basics banners.

In 2009, rival Loblaws acquired the 20-store T&T supermarket chain, Canada’s largest Asian food retailer.

Pat Calabretta, Montreal-based senior director of merchandising and purchasing for Sobeys Quebec, said IGA and Sobeys are working to increase their already extensive variety of products for ethnic minorities to meet the growing demand, particularly in Montreal.

Bernard Côté, executive vice president for Montreal wholesale and importer J.B. Laverdure, said his company is starting to import more exotic fruits and root vegetables.

"There are more immigrants and more stores, so we have no choice," Côté said. "They need suppliers."

With more than 30 years of experience, Montreal-based Amira Enterprises is well positioned to serve the city’s ethnic community, Egyptian-born vice president Adel Boulos said.

"When immigrants come here and see the products and brands they used to buy back home, it makes them feel good," said Boulos, whose father began distributing dried fruit and nuts from his Montreal basement in 1979.

The family-run company now boasts 140 employees and imports products ranging from tomato paste to pomegranate salad dressing from countries such as Morocco, Lebanon and Turkey. Amira also flies in fresh mangoes, guavas, yellow dates and white eggplant from Egypt twice a week.

Boulos said many immigrants are arriving in Montreal from countries where French is commonly spoken, including Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

"We’re getting more listings all the time in the major supermarket chains across Canada," Boulos said. "We just got listed in FreshCo (a Sobeys value banner in Ontario) for 60 items, and we’re working on another 30."



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