Four 49th Parallel Grocery stores were on Country Grocer’s shopping list.
Country Grocer announced in a press release Tuesday, Feb. 14, that it is acquiring 49th Parallel’s four locations in Ladysmith, Chemainus, Cedar and Duncan.
“Country Grocer is extremely excited about this acquisition, and we look forward to working with everyone on the 49th Parallel team,” said Wally Large, co-founder of Country Grocer, in the press release.
Tyler Large, Country Grocer’s operations director for the central and north Island, said the 49th Parallel stores will be converted into Country Grocer stores, starting with the Duncan location within the next four to six weeks. The second location to be converted will be Chemainus, then Ladysmith, then Cedar.
“It’s going to take some time…” he said. “We’ll slowly pick away at the different programs and stuff that we want to integrate into their stores and lots of their products and programs they have that we want to integrate into ours.”
49th Parallel employs more than 380 team members, the release noted, and Tyler Large said the acquisition will have “no implications at all” on staffing levels.
“They have a lot of tremendous staff in all their locations and we’re looking forward to building relationships with all of them and working with all of them as the years go on,” he said.
He added that Country Grocer and 49 Parallel run similar programs and carry similar products, and said the store’s goal will be to continue to provide the value customers are used to, while adding value where possible and making “positive changes.”
“We compete with the big guys … and we’re hoping with the addition of [these] four stores, we’ll continue to compete in the fierce market that we have on Vancouver Island,” the operations director said.
Expanding stores is a possibility down the road depending on the location, landlord and other factors, but for now, the 49 Parallel stores have “more than enough space,” he said.
Asked about the proximity of the Country Grocer in Chase River and the 49th Parallel in Cedar, the ops director said they’re seen as two “very distinct markets” and while he noted that there is some crossover, south Nanaimo is a fast-growing area with significant development in the works.
“Cedar’s its own community out there and we want to make sure that we’re providing all the value that the community has come to know and love for the last 15-20 years in that specific site,” he said.
The press release noted that the transaction is part of a “succession plan” for 49th Parallel’s shareholders, the Richmond family.
Peter Richmond, president and chief financial officer of 49th Parallel Grocery, said in a release that his family extends its “sincerest thanks” to the communities it has operated in, and to staff for their commitment to quality and service over the years.
“We are delighted to see the business become part of a bigger, multi-generational, family operated grocery business with similar family and community values as 49th Parallel Grocery,” he said. “Country Grocer is the ideal ownership group to keep the independent voice alive and well here on Vancouver Island.”
The acquisition will be finalized on Monday, Feb. 20. There will be 11 Country Grocer locations on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands once the conversions are complete.