Farm Boy

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Farm Boy Inc.
IndustryGrocery
Founded1981; 38 years ago (1981)
FounderJean-Louis and Collette Bellemare
Headquarters,
Canada
Number of locations
26
Area served
Ontario
OwnerEmpire Company
ParentSobeys (2018–present)
Websitefarmboy.ca

Farm Boy Inc. is a Canadian food retailer operating in the province of Ontario. The company is based in Ottawa, Ontario. The retailer specializes in selling fresh produce and food products, with an emphasis on Farm-to-table wholesale.

Its primary jingle is It's a farm boy day, so shop the farm boy way. Its current slogan can be found under the Farm Boy sign on its stores, "It's All About The Food."

An announcement in late September 2018 stated that the company would be purchased by Sobeys parent, Empire Co. Ltd.

History[edit]

In December 1981, Collette and Jean-Louis Bellemare opened the first Farm Boy on Cumberland Street in Cornwall, Ontario. At that time, the modest 300 sq. ft. store sold only produce. The second Farm Boy was opened in February 1983 by brother Normand Bellemare in Cornwall.

By October of the next year, the Bellemare brothers joined together to open a Farm Boy on Sydney Street. This 5,000 sq ft (460 m2) store allowed them to expand their products beyond produce with dairy, deli, cheese and meat product lines. An in-store bakery and bulk food were also added.

The equity firm Berkshire Partners has been a major investor in the business since late 2012.[1]

Expansion[edit]

By 1992, the success of Farm Boy in Cornwall allowed the family to expand their business into other regions; Orleans on Centrum Boulevard in 1992, Nepean in February 1996, Montreal Road in the Hillside Plaza in May 1997, Kanata on Hazeldean Road in November 1997, Blossom Park area in July 2003 and again in Orleans in December 2004. New stores were opened in 2006 at the Blue Heron Mall, on Bank Street, Barrhaven on Woodroffe Avenue, a store on Terry Fox Drive in the Kanata Signature centre in 2007 and Britannia off Richmond Road in 2011. In August 2012, another location opened in the north parking lot of Place d'Orleans. It was the first store to offer an in store eating area. In 2012, Farm Boy also expanded to Kingston. This was their first store outside of the Ottawa area.

In the fall of 2003, the Bellemares created a Board of Directors to oversee the overall direction of the company and appointed Jeff York as the new President of Farm Boy in 2009. In 2012 two of the 3 Bellemare brothers stepped down as an investment group based in Boston invested in the company to help them grow.[2]

In the summer of 2014, Farm Boy expanded to London, Ontario. Citing success in its first London location at Wellington Road just north of Bradley Ave, the company announced two more locations would open in the spring of 2015. The first located near CF Masonville Place in the city's north end, and the region's largest store located at Wonderland and Beaverbrook, just west of Western University. The Wonderland and Beaverbrook location is also home to the company's regional offices.[3][4]

In summer of 2015, Farm Boy furthered its expansion with its first location in Kitchener and Whitby.

In summer of 2016, another store was opened in the Westboro neighbourhood of Ottawa. This store was meant as an experiment for the company to have a more central location with a greater focus on in-store dining with a larger eating area and "Farm Boy Kitchen" prepared food area.

In July 2017, it was announced that Farm Boy would be taking over part of the former food court location at CF Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa,[5] which opened mid-December 2017.

On March 1, 2018,Farm Boy opened their first store in Toronto, in the suburb of Etobicoke at Alderwood Plaza.

On March 22, 2018, they opened their 26th location in Hamilton, Ontario at Harvard Square Plaza.

As of September 2018, the chain had 26 stores and annual sales of CAD$500 million. The Financial Post summarized the store's appeal as, "It’s known for its fresh products, pre-made food, smaller stores and private label products".[6]

Sale of the company[edit]

On September 24, 2018, Empire Company Ltd., parent of the Sobeys chain of supermarkets, announced that it had signed an agreement to purchase Farm Boy from Berkshire Partners and Farm Boy's management shareholders[7] in a deal worth $800-million. Regulatory approval will be required for the purchase, which was expected to conclude in early 2019.[8]

Farm Boy founder Jean-Louis Bellemare, his co-CEO Jeff York and other members of the senior executives will stay on and will reinvest, to own a 12% share in the new company which will operate as a separate entity.[9] The new ownership will allow Farm Boy to continue with aggressive expansion plans into South-Western Ontario, and in particular the Toronto region.[10] The business was expected to double over the next five years.[11]

Empire had no intention of integrating Farm Boy into their major chains. Michael Medline, President and CEO of Empire Company Limited, assured consumers that they will continue to get the shopping experience that defines Farm Boy. On Twitter, he made this comment in reply to many who had expressed concern: "I can assure you that we will not screw this up". Medline also told analysts in a conference call, "We do not want to ruin the magic of Farm Boy by trying to integrate them. We love what Farm Boy is doing; it has the best brand ... we want to see it grow ... We intend to enable the leadership team of Farm Boy to do what they do best: grow a highly successful retail format at double digit rates".[12] Farm Boy products will not be sold in Empire's other chains nor will Farm Boy stock their brands. Farm Boy products will be included in the Ocado-based e-commerce business that was expected to start in 2020, but as a separate entity from the other Empire chains.[13]

See also[edit]

  1. ^ Berkshire Partners to Invest in Farm Boy 13 November 2012
  2. ^ Berkshire Partners to Invest in Farm Boy 13 November 2012
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-01. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
  4. ^ http://london.ctvnews.ca/farm-boy-expanding-to-three-locations-in-london-1.2031658#
  5. ^ "Farm Boy to open in the Rideau Centre". Ottawa. 2017-07-17. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  6. ^ "'We will not screw this up': Sobeys parent to buy beloved Farm Boy in $800M deal". Financial Post. 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2018-09-27.
  7. ^ "Empire to buy Farm Boy chain for $800 million - Sobeys parent aims to accelerate fresh market's expansion". Supermarket News. 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2018-09-27. line feed character in |title= at position 48 (help)
  8. ^ "Sobeys owner Empire to acquire Farm Boy in $800 million deal". Financial Post. 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2018-09-27.
  9. ^ "'We will not screw this up': Sobeys parent to buy beloved Farm Boy in $800M deal". Financial Post. 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2018-09-27. Empire’s real estate expertise, purchasing and distribution systems will help Farm Boy grow, York said, adding that it will be easier to get prime locations with Sobeys’ backing
  10. ^ "Ottawa's beloved Farm Boy stores to be sold to owner of Sobeys grocery chain". Ottawa. 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  11. ^ "Sobeys parent company to acquire Farm Boy in $800M deal". City News Toronto. 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  12. ^ "Empire to buy Farm Boy chain for $800 million - Sobeys parent aims to accelerate fresh market's expansion". Supermarket News. 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2018-09-27. line feed character in |title= at position 48 (help)
  13. ^ "'We will not screw this up': Sobeys parent to buy beloved Farm Boy in $800M deal". Financial Post. 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2018-09-27. Unlike the Safeway acquisition, there are no plans to integrate Farm Boy into Empire’s big grocery chains

External links[edit]