IGA (supermarkets)

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IGA
Type Supermarket
Industry Retail
Founded 1926
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Products Bakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, general grocery, liquor, meat, produce, seafood, snacks
Website iga.com

IGA is U.S. brand of grocery stores active in more than 30 countries. Contrasting with the chain store business model, IGA operates as a franchise through stores that are owned separately from the brand. Many of these stores operate in small town markets and belong to families that manage them. It was founded in the United States as the Independent Grocers Alliance. The headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois.[1]

United States[edit]

IGA was started in May 1926 when a group of 100 independent retailers in Poughkeepsie, New York, and Sharon, Connecticut, led by J. Frank Grimes, organized themselves into a single marketing system. This group quickly expanded, and by the end of the year there were more than 150 IGA retailers. In 1930 there were over 8,000 grocery stores using the IGA name. The company uses the "Hometown Proud Supermarkets" slogan. Today, many IGA grocery stores are still located in smaller cities and towns throughout the United States.

The stores in the Alliance remain independently owned and operated. The Alliance oversees several resources shared among the member stores. These include, most visibly, the IGA store brand products and the logistical network that distributes them. The Alliance also provides training and assessment programs and an online advertising platform. It regularly coordinates promotional events and charity fundraising events that benefit store communities.

Canada[edit]

IGA store (left) on Dundas Street in Toronto, September 1957.
Logo used in Quebec markets.

In Canada (apart from British Columbia), IGA is a group of independent grocers supplied by Sobeys, which franchises the name. Acquired by Sobeys as part of its purchase of the Oshawa Group Ltd., it now operates primarily in Quebec. The IGA operations in Atlantic Canada were sold to Loblaw Companies Limited (except for Edmundston, New Brunswick) and were restructured under its existing brands. The company-owned stores west of Quebec now mainly operate under the Sobeys banner. In Ontario, Sobeys forced franchise owned IGA stores to convert to the Foodland banner, and announced the upcoming closure of the IGA program in Ontario. There are, however, many IGA stores still operating in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.[2]

IGA Extra locations are larger and carry a wider variety of general merchandise, more akin to the hypermarket model. They include a pharmacy, large bakery, a bank, a bistro, a post office and a larger selection of food items. IGA Extra launched in the early 2000s take place of Sobeys locations in the Quebec City and Montreal areas.

In addition, IGA in Quebec also operates smaller supermarkets, such as Bonichoix and Tradition (a branding introduced in 1999).

In British Columbia, IGA and Marketplace IGA stores are, for the most part, independently owned and are supplied by the H.Y. Louie Co.[3]

Quebec franchise language controversy[edit]

A Saint-Lambert, Quebec franchise of IGA supermarkets, Les Marchés Louise Ménard was at the centre of controversy over a policy imposed by store management forbidding employees from speaking languages other than French within the store, including on break-time.[4] An employee quit the store and recorded her conversation about the store language policy with her managers, which she then released to the media. In the recording, a manager can be heard saying that linguistic ghettos would be created in the employees room if languages other than French were permitted in the employee break room.[5]

After hearing the recording, franchise owner Louise Ménard suspended the manager in question for an indefinite period of time.[6] Ménard also clarified that languages other than French were not restricted in her stores, and blamed the issue on a miscommunication.[6] Sobeys, which owns the rights to the IGA brand in Canada, distanced company policy from that of the franchise, and indicated that they would deal with the issue in the appropriate fashion according to their contractual agreement.[7]

Australia[edit]

The Independent Grocers of Australia brand is owned by Metcash, an Australian retailer and wholesaler. This company supplies groceries, promotional materials and other things to a large number of locally owned Australian supermarkets, and a few smaller chains. Collectively, they are a competitor to major Australian supermarkets Woolworths and Coles.

In Western Australia On May 1, 2006, IGA grew to include Dewsons, Action and SupaValu after Foodland Associated Limited has sold to (Metcash IGA Distribution Pty Ltd).

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