Empire, which operates Canadian grocer Sobeys, among others, is expanding its Ontario store network and e-commerce audience with its latest move. The Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based company is purchasing 51% of greater Toronto area specialty grocer Longo’s and its Grocery Gateway e-commerce business.
Empire said that the $357 million acquisition adds 700,000 online customers to its e-commerce business via Grocery Gateway, as well as 36 Longo’s locations in Ontario. The buy also adds to Empire’s brand family, which includes Sobeys, Foodland, FreshCo, Farm Boy and Voilà, in Ontario, which is Canada’s largest grocery market.
"Empire has strong momentum and we are laser-focused on our Project Horizon growth plans in key markets like the GTA, both in bricks and mortar and e-commerce," said Michael Medline, president and CEO, Empire. "Longo's has built one of the most successful and sought-after brands in the GTA and Southwestern Ontario. Longo's is a crown jewel of grocery and as a values-driven company, Longo's culture aligns closely with Empire. We couldn't be happier to be partnering with Anthony and the Longo's team."
Longo’s and Grocery Gateway will continue to be operated by its leadership team, led by president and CEO Anthony Longo. The company said it would focus on growing both businesses while adding several new Longo’s stores over the next five years.
"With strong alignment to our family values and purpose, we look forward to working together with Empire to bring the Longo's experience to even more Canadian families," said Longo. "The more we learned about Empire, the clearer it became that this was the right team to partner with to support our next chapter of growth. And of course, we will continue to offer the same high-quality service and fresh products, exceptional private-label offering and the convenience of e-commerce that our guests have come to know and love."
Longo’s, which has been around since 1956, has managed to distinguish itself in the market with a focus on fresh, high-quality products, in particular its prepared foods and assortment of private label products, paired with high standards of team member service. Though it will be managed separately, Longo’s will leverage Empire’s infrastructure and capabilities in sourcing, logistics and real estate, the companies said.
The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of fiscal 2022.