Real Canadian Superstore – Red, White…. and Blue?

Superstore

I noticed upon a more recent visit to the Real Candian Superstore in Aurora that the store is undergoing some serious changes.

Among them is an image over that is looking to more closely pair the store to Walmart.  In doing so they have changed their color scheme, and we all know that nothing says "Real Canadian" like red white and blue.

Changes to the layout seem to be an improvement, but one has to wonder what else is afoot.

This article speaking about the changes to Loblaws store out west says it has "Americanized" its look: http://www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=52833

Loblaws has not made it a secret that they wish to compete with Walmart, it is unfortunate that they haven't figured out how.

In a CBC article from 2007 ( http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2007/05/22/loblaws.html )

The subject of local produce seemed to be on the forefront of everyone's minds:

"I don't usually buy vegetables in this store," Epton says. "If they concentrate more on local, I'd definitely buy here. But right now, I go to two stores."

I wholeheartedly agree.  I found it very interesting that the majority of produce in the Superstore is not from Ontario, however a short trip over to Walmart opened my eyes, the majority of their produce was from Ontario and the rest of Canada.

This seemed very odd.

Elizabeth Margles, a spokeswoman for Loblaws Companies said:

"As long as it makes sense for everybody, we are always happy to work with local vendors, local suppliers, local manufacturers across the board,"

We're now 2.5 years out, so I guess what can be determined is that somewhere along the chain Loblaws couldn't get it to make sense even though the public was shouting out that this is what they wanted.  Walmart did.

Perhaps going up against Walmart has taken the focus off this initiative, not moved them closer to it.

The Presidents Choice brand that saved the company so many years ago is stale.

Their "No Name" brand has been cheapened through its retro rebranding incorporating some of the Presidents Choice line, consumers are more confused not less.

What was the impetus for these changes?
Apparently Galen Weston Jr. was surprised at how much items were costing at his stores and decided to give a more prominent placement on store shelves revert to the brand's hallmark black-on-yellow packaging.

http://www.strategyonline.ca/articles/magazine/20090301/decon.html

Jennifer Wells from the Toronto Star had delusions of grandeur when she wrote about the changes Galen Weston Jr. taking the helm:
http://www.thestar.com/comment/columnists/article/181422

Galen Weston Jr's appointment has proven to be a joke, he has no vision nor experience to be running such a company, if he continues along the path he has chosen he's going to hit a brick wall….or should I say a brick Walmart.

"Still, as Loblaw aggressively lowers its superstore prices, one of its biggest risks is getting locked in a price war with Wal-Mart, she said. Few retailers ever win that war with the global powerhouse."

Ian Lee, an assistant professor at Carleton University's school of business in Ottawa brought up a good point back in 2007:

"Does Loblaws want to be in the mid-market selling reasonably good-quality groceries? Or do they want to get into the lower end of the market and sell schlocky merchandise?" 

They seem to be on the road for the latter.

God bless the USA and the big box store.  What a goal for a Canadian chain to aspire to.

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