By Sarah Gilder, Spoke News
Kitchener’s Farm Boy will be one of the 26 stores included in a merger with Sobeys parent company, Empire Co. Ltd., in an $800-million deal.
The original plan for the merger was to help Sobeys expand into Ontario. The company says that nothing will change with Farm Boy and that it will actually be run separately from Sobeys by the current CEO Jean-Louise Bellemare and co-CEO Jeff York.
There have been a mix of reactions to the news in the community, with some people worried that merging Farm Boy with a major grocery store will change what people have loved about it for so long.
This may be big news, but Not sure I find this news good at all. I love Farm Boy as it is. Please don’t change into another large commercial grocery store like Sobeys. I love you just the way you are.
— Yorkiegirl007 (@yorkiegirl007) September 24, 2018
Please don't let them change things. The great thing about Farm Boy is that it's different than the other chains. No one wants your stores to become a more expensive and smaller version of Sobeys 🙁
— Michelle Clark (@MSC_63) September 24, 2018
While this may be a big news day for the @FarmBoy family, for this longtime shopper, this is a disappointing day. We will have to wait and see how this will translate to the future shopping experience. @sobeys , let's see how you manage this transition. #eatlocal #shoplocal
— Bread & Buttered (@BreadButtered) September 24, 2018
York has done a lot to try to dissuade these bad notions by saying that this merger would be good for their business. As Farm Boy has always come last after bigger companies such as Metro, Sobeys and Loblaws.
“There should be no concern from our customers because it is only going to get better. Nothing’s going to change. We’re just going to keep growing it better and faster and keep concentrating on what we do best,” York told the Ottawa Business Journal.
People are still skeptical, however, because of Sobeys’ previous attempt at taking over Safeway in 2013 which led to cancellations of programs and frustrations for not only customers but also employees as well due to back office software not working properly and their inability to keep some products in stock.
But the CEOs of both companies continue to reassure consumers that this merger will only help the stores to grow and be more successful. With Farm Boy products being added into Sobeys stores and some Sobeys stores being converted into new Farm Boy ones. Also Farm Boy products are planned to be added to Sobeys new Ocado-based e-commerce business that is expected to be launched in 2020. This is also expected be the most advanced online grocery platform.
The first Farm Boy was opened in 1981 in Cornwall, Ont., as a produce only store and eventually grew to spread all across Ontario and is still spreading.
Farm Boy will also be keeping its house labels and will continue to provide fresh produce along with being just a food based store. It will also continue to make its already prepared meals.
This merger is estimated to be complete sometime in 2019.