Two years after undergoing a major rebrand, M&M Food Market has launched the next phase in its evolution: partnerships with other retailers.
The company, formerly known as M&M Meat Shops, has launched M&M Food Market Express, a branded frozen-food section at various retail chains.
The concept is currently in 32 Rexall stores in Toronto, around 40 Beaudry-Cadrin (Beau-soir) in Northern Quebec and 10 Avondale Food Stores in Southern Ontario.
M&M Food Market also has partnerships with Nunavut-based retailer and distributor Eskimo Point Lumber Supply, which sells a wide range of goods including groceries; and two convenience/gas station operators: MacEwen in Ontario and Quebec and KAR Holdings in Western Canada. The Express concept is also set up at 11 Canex military stores.
There are two main goals behind the new concept, says M&M Food Market CEO Andy O’Brien. “We wanted to go into smaller communities where it doesn’t make sense to put a full-size [M&M Food Market] there. For example, for populations below 15,000,” he says.
“The second reason is we really want to get some presence in urban markets in Canada,” where M&M doesn’t have a lot of traditional stores, he says. Though the partnership with Rexall doesn’t extend beyond the Greater Toronto Area, O’Brien says the company is evaluating other urban markets.
Participating Rexall stores carry between 75 and 100 M&M products and the range is tailored to specific locations. For example, in areas with a lot of condo-dwellers, there’s a bigger dinner program, including meal kits, chicken pad Thai and beef low mien. Another planogram is more geared towards office workers who most likely are going to buy single-serve items at lunchtime.
With each retail partner, M&M is the only frozen food player in the stores, other than frozen novelties, says O’Brien. “We offer a complete selection, from appetizers to desserts, to centre plate to side—so all the frozen products for them,” he says. The in-store set up is typically three or four freezer doors and sometimes a bunker as well, depending on the store setup.
M&M Food Market is aiming to have the Express concept in 200 stores—all existing retail partners—by the end of its fiscal year, which is July 2019.
“The reason we can do these programs with these partners is because of the change that we made to our business,” says O’Brien. “Rexall has a very strong health platform. The fact that we removed all the artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners in our products; changed our packaging and pack sizes; and improved our products and flavours made a massive difference in terms of the appeal that we have to consumers.”
M&M Food Market is also planning to expand its traditional stores. “It all comes down to finding the right piece of real estate at the right economics, but we hope to open between five and 10 traditional stores a year—hopefully closer to 10,” says O’Brien.