Sobeys was established in 1907, in Stellarton, in the province of Nova Scotia. The company’s founder, John W. Sobey, created Sobeys originally as a business engaged in meat delivery.
In 1924, John Sobey’s son Frank, convinced him to convert the company into a full grocery store business which served the region of Pictou County. When the Sobeys started their grocery business, Frank Sobey became the business’ driving force. In 1949, the company opened its self-serve supermarket.
After a few years, the company was able to expand to Atlantic Canada. Sobeys became one of the region’s most dominant grocers in the later part of the 20th century. Sobeys was able to expand to the region of southern Ontario by the 1980s. During that time, Sobeys challenged retail giant Loblaws, which ignited a battle for market domination in the country.
By 1998, Sobeys had become the second largest grocery store chain in the whole of Canada, especially when it acquired The Oshawa Group. This company was IGA Canada’s franchise owner. Aside from the Oshawa Group, Sobeys was also able to acquire some regional chains in the area of Ontario, as well as some wholesale companies and food service companies.
In 2001, Sobeys discarded a $90M investment that it engaged in because of unsuccessful project management. A year after, the company embarked on a major change in both the stores’ design and policies on customer service. With the stores’ new slogan “Ready to Serve,” Sobeys acted to emphasize the importance of customer service over low prices.
In September of 2006, the company introduced a re-vamped website, a new slogan and a new campaign in advertising. A year after, the company took over, Thrifty Foods, a chain of grocery stores based in British Columbia.
As of 2011, Sobeys has more than 1,300 stores all overCanada. The company also signed a distribution agreement with giant American retailer Target. This long-term agreement involved Sobeys supplying select grocery and food products to Target’s yet-to-be-opened stores in Canada. Currently, Sobeys is a subsidiary company of the Empire Company.
Headquarters: Stellarton, Nova Scotia
Ownership Type: A subsidiary of Empire Company
Employees: 85,000 (as of 2009)
Demography: Retail product consumers
Compliments, Gourmet Minute, Signal