Loblaw has decided to abandon its namesake brand in Quebec and will convert its 17 remaining Loblaws stores in the province into Provigos starting next month.
“We’ve decided to return to our DNA,” Pierre Dandoy, senior vice-president of Provigo and Loblaws Quebec told the Montreal-daily La Presse. “Provigo is really a great Quebec banner and it reflects who we are.”
Having only one banner and one message, will allow Provigo to unify its marketing and consolidate its position in Quebec, he said.
The move does not come as a surprise given that some Loblaws in Quebec have been converted into Provigo Le Marché banners and several new Provigo Le Marchés have been built since the concept arrived in the province in 2013.
Since the arrival of Provigo Le Marché there has been speculation that the Loblaws brand would disappear, something that was denied until now by the chain’s Quebec management.
However, for the last several months, Loblaws and Provigo weekly circulars in the province have been virtually identical.
The Provigo Le Marché concept echoes the designs first seen in Loblaws’ Maple Leaf Gardens store in Toronto but adds “only in Quebec” elements.
The majority of the remaining Loblaws in Quebec will become Provigos, some will get the Provigo Le Marché treatment and a few will close. At the end of the process, there will be 88 Provigo and Provigo Le Marché stores in Quebec.
Two Loblaws stores in the Montreal area will be converted into Provigo Le Marché outlets in November.
A new Provigo Le Marché is planned is an outlet in the new Tour des Canadiens condominium complex next to the hockey team’s Bell Centre home in downtown Montreal.
Loblaw has invested $210 million in Quebec over the last two years in the construction or renovation of 20 stores, and plans to invest a further $75 million next year in its Quebec network.
Dandoy said some of the Loblaws stores are not large enough to become Provigo Le Marché but will still get elements that are part of the concept, including expanded cheese and aged beef sections.
Loblaws has done alright among anglophones in the province, “but never really caught on as a go-to destination among French-speaking Quebecers,” says Éric Blais, president of Toronto-based Headspace Marketing.
After Loblaw acquired the Provigo banner, the company had a vision of Loblaws as a national banner and tried to phase Provigo out instead of propping it up, says Blais, who often explains the Quebec market to the rest of the country.
But while President’s Choice line has done well in Quebec, the difficult-to-pronounce among francophones Loblaw name never really caught on.
Although Provigo “lacked support for many years, almost to be abandoned,” the brand “has shown an incredible amount of resiliency,” Blais says. “It’s still a pretty strong brand” and recent rebranding efforts and the growth Provigo Le Marché “show the brand still has a great deal of equity.”
Adds Blais: “Provigo has a great share of heart in Quebec. I think it’s a very wise move to go back to Provigo.”