Real Canadian Superstore
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Real Canadian Superstore is a chain of supermarkets owned by Canadian food retailing giant Loblaw Companies. Its name is often shortened to Superstore.
Originating in Western Canada in the late 1970s/early 1980s, the banner expanded into Ontario in the early 2000s as Loblaw attempts to fend off competition from department stores including U.S.-based Wal-Mart.
Loblaw has tested alternative banners at some locations in Ontario, with some labelled as "Loblaw Superstore", and a few others as simply "Superstore"; for a time this was reflected in the chain's marketing which used a separate logo to advertise all of these banners. The company has since reverted to marketing the entire chain as Real Canadian Superstore, although some locations might retain other signage.
The stores carry a variety of goods, but the vast majority of space is devoted to groceries and about a third of each store is set aside for electronics, housewares, and clothing. Items in the latter two categories are mainly from Loblaw's private labels, such as President's Choice, Life at Home, or Joe Fresh. As with many Loblaw stores, they offer corporate-branded services such as PhotoLab photo finishing and DrugStore pharmacies. Many outlets also boast a GoodLife Fitness club, drive-through pharmacies, gas bars, photo studios, community rooms, as well as walk-in medical clinics managed by Primacy Medical.
Loblaws is working to cut costs and compete effectively with this multi-format store. Each store has a similar layout, useful for both cost efficiency and shopper ease. Also, in an effort to cater to individual customer segments, Superstore buys specific products for different regions. Superstore locations now top 20,000 square metres (220,000 sq ft).
In the west, Superstores are operated by Loblaw subsidiary Westfair Foods Ltd. Ontario stores are operated as part of Loblaw's other banners, including Loblaws and Zehrs, although Superstore is considered a separate chain, and prices at one chain may not apply at the other. Loblaw is centralizing its head office operations, which includes the relocation of the General Merchandise personnel from Calgary, Alberta to Brampton, Ontario to consolidate operations.
Employees of Loblaws and the Real Canadian Superstore are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.
The first Real Canadian Superstore location opened in March 1979 in a former Loblaws location in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan under the name SuperValu. Numerous other SuperValu locations opened across Western Canada before most gradually expanded into Superstore sites; the SuperValu name is still in use in British Columbia and the Maritimes, the latter branded as Atlantic SuperValu.
The similarly named The Real Superstore was used in the United States from the 1970s up until the mid-1990s by the Loblaws-owned National Supermarkets chain until the chain was purchased by competitor Schnucks.
Superstore marks the return of Loblaw's superstore format in the Greater Toronto Area after the unsuccessful launch of the SuperCentre format in the 1980s and 1990s. In the early 21st century, Loblaw brought the Superstore banner to Ontario as a response to the introduction of large grocery sections in most Canadian Wal-Mart stores and other department stores, and as a pre-emptive strike against any plans by Wal-Mart to bring its "Supercenter" format to Canada. Originally, Ontario stores were co-branded with the local Loblaw banner (i.e., "Loblaws - The Real Canadian Superstore"), but most shortened their name to reduce confusion and allow separate weekly specials for each chain.
In 2003, Loblaws purchased Maple Leaf Gardens, the former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and announced plans to convert it into a Real Canadian Superstore, which was criticised by historical groups such as Friends of Maple Leaf Gardens. Loblaws later completed an agreement with Ryerson University to convert a large part of the gardens into Ryerson University's athletic centre, which has a NHL regulation ice rink on the top floor under the roof for use by the university's hockey team and other facilities. Loblaws opened up its half of the building under the Loblaws name on November 30, 2011, making it the company's new flagship store. The store has many tributes to the Gardens' past, displays about the arena, and a dot on the floor of the store marking original centre ice. The exterior of Maple Leaf Gardens remained unchanged; however, during the Ryerson part of the project the canopy and sign were replaced by a new canopy and sign based on the original 1940s version of the canopy and sign. The replacement has received much acclaim due to its historical accuracy to the original sign.
New Ontario locations began to open under the name Loblaw Superstore in late 2007. Since December 2008, Ontario stores have used common flyers displaying a combined "Superstore: Loblaw / Real Canadian" logo. However, Loblaw has not yet said whether one banner will eventually replace the other.
In March 2009, the Real Canadian Superstore in Oakville became the Loblaw Superstore with new signage and colour scheme, along with the Weston location in Summer 2009.
In fall 2009, the Weston location had again reverted to Real Canadian Superstore banner.
There are no Superstore locations as such in Atlantic Canada or Quebec. However, in recent years, and particularly since 2008, Atlantic Superstore in the Maritimes and Dominion in Newfoundland and Labrador, both also owned by Loblaw, have adopted similar store formats and a similar marketing approach to RCSS. In Quebec, Maxi and Co. and some larger Loblaws locations fill the void. It is not clear whether Loblaw intends to eventually rebrand these stores to create a national "Superstore" chain.
As well, there are a handful of large-format Loblaws and Zehrs stores in Ontario – including certain locations in Markham, Ottawa, and Kitchener – which closely replicate the selection of food and general merchandise available at Superstores. Most of these locations were built around the same time as the first Ontario Superstores, but nevertheless chose to use older brand names.
As of 2015, the Superstore website lists 113 locations.
- London (2)
- Mississauga (2)
- Oshawa (2)
- Ottawa (3)
- St. Catharines
- St. Thomas
- Thunder Bay
- Toronto (3)
- Wasaga Beach
- Windsor (2)
- Real Canadian Wholesale Club
- Real Canadian Liquorstore
- Loblaw Companies
- Extra Foods
- Supermarkets in Canada