Canada's biggest grocery chain, Loblaws, has been struggling for a few years in anticipation of the Wal-Mart grocery invasion; it built new warehouses that didn't work, neglected its own fabulously successful President's Choice franchise and filled the aisles with cheap Chinese knockoffs of everything from barbecues to furniture instead of food.
Now heir Galen Weston Jr has taken over and promises change, doing his own commercials and touting the new green line, including local food. Back in May he told CBC: "As long as it makes sense for everybody, we are always happy to work with local vendors, local suppliers, local manufacturers across the board."
So here it is, July. We just returned from the store and the only local fruit or vegetables in the entire store: Cherries. Period.
It's a big ship and it takes some time to turn around, but if there was one obvious step that you could have taken to visibly show your commitment, this was it. Selling a bag for 99 cents doesn't make you green; selling decent food at the peak of our short season to fill it does.
Ian Lee, an assistant professor at Carleton University's school of business in Ottawa says it won't be easy to find a niche in local, high-quality food, but he maintains that's the way Loblaws will compete successfully against Wal-Mart.
"The most important strategic question facing Loblaws today [is] what do you want to be when you grow up?" he asks. "Does Loblaws want to be in the mid-market selling reasonably good-quality groceries? Or do they want to get into the lower end of the market and sell schlocky merchandise?" ::CBC