Sobeys parent company to acquire Farm Boy in $800 million deal

Marco Green
September 25, 2018

"I swear to god, Sobeys, if you screw up Farm Boy, hometown or no, you will be dead to me", they wrote. "Its fresh, ready-to-eat and private label offerings are particularly appealing to urban and suburban consumers", said a statement from Michael Medline, President and CEO of Empire.

It's not clear what will change at the supermarket as Farm Boy will be managed separately from Empire Co. Ltd. Farm Boy founder Jean-Louis Bellemare and his co-CEO Jeff York will continue in their roles.

"I promise, Shannon, we won't screw up", Medline said in a conference call with industry analysts.

Farm Boy opened its first grocery store in Cornwall in 1981, and offers fresh foods and its own private-label grocery products, a format which has drawn some comparisons to popular USA food retail chain Trader Joe's.

Plans are to "turbo-charge" Farm Boy's growth, doubling the size of the business in the next five years, the statement said. The chain now has 26 locations across southeastern Ontario.

But executives on a conference call today on both sides of the deal assured the public that nothing will change.

The deal means Farm Boy will ramp up its expansion in the Toronto area and southwestern Ontario.

However, he noted that there are some aspects of Empire, such as real estate expertise, that Farm Boy will be able to leverage.

The first Toronto location opened earlier this year.

Ottawa-based Farm Boy, which specializes in "farm-to-table" wholesale, will be acquired from Berkshire Partners, following which it will be set up as a separate company within Empire's structure.

There are 14 Farm Boys in Ottawa.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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