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Save-on-Foods heading into a crowded Langford grocery scene

Posted on September 15, 2016

Save-on-Foods, the largest grocer in Western Canada, is expanding its footprint with a seventh Greater Victoria location planned for Langford.

The company, which operates more than 140 stores in Western Canada, said Wednesday it will open its newest location in the spring of 2018 in the Home Outfitters store. Hudson’s Bay Company, parent of Home Outfitters, is closing the store at 759 McCallum Rd., in the Gateway Station Shopping Centre, near Costco.

The Home Outfitters store in the Tillicum Shopping Centre is continuing to operate.

“This has been in the works for over a year,” Darrell Jones, president of the Overwaitea Food Group, said in an interview.

“The Bay is starting to rationalize its business and that has opened up some opportunities for us. We’re excited about this, we have a great landlord in a great community and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

Jones said they plan to start renovating the 36,000-square-foot space in March with a view to opening a Save-on-Foods with a new focus. “When you open your latest store it always has your latest thinking and the best of what is happening at that particular point,” Jones said, noting it will be different from what the region has been used to from the company.

Jones said there will be an increased focus on fresh food and meals made in-house. There will be a hot-wing bar, a sushi bar, a carvery and juice machines among other amenities.

“It’s a good size for us. We are fitting into the footprint of another business, so we are somewhat restricted in what we can offer, but we will put the best of what we have in there,” he said.

The grocery marketplace is a tough environment and the West Shore is starting to heat up in terms of grocery competition.

Quality Foods recently opened in both Langford and View Royal. Thrifty Foods is building a new store at the old Belmont School site in Langford. Bear Mountain has added its Mountain Market near the resort, where it has plans for a larger, 20,000 square foot store in a new retail centre to be built in the next two years.

On top of all that, just off the Millstream Road corridor, there is Costco and the Market on Millstream.

“They are opening a grocery store in the Western Communities at an alarming pace, one a year, and the population growth just doesn’t support it to be honest,” said Darryl Hein, co-owner of the Market on Millstream. “It seems to be extreme overkill to me.

“We are holding our own considering we have had three stores open major supermarkets in the last five years in the neighbourhood. This is another one and we will be ready for it.”

Jones said he believes the area is continuing to grow, and isn’t concerned about the competition.

As for operating under the shadow of Costco, Jones said it’s a battle he’s faced before.

“Costco is very good at what it does and it actually brings people to a community or an area,” he said, adding in some regions Overwaitea Group stores share parking lots with Costco. “If you’re very good at the things Costco isn’t as good at, you can do well competing in markets against them.”

Story by: Andrew Duffy