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New M&M Meat Shop owners look to heat up frozen sales

New CEO focused on bringing a renewed focus to frozen food

M&M-meatshops

One of Canada’s largest retailers of specialty frozen food in Canada is under new management and looking to rekindle Canadians’ love of frozen fare.

Searchlight Capital Partners said Wednesday that together with other partners it has bought frozen food retailer M&M Meat Shops Ltd for an undisclosed amount.

Searchlight also announced the appointment of Andy O’Brien as chief executive and Sam Florio as chief financial officer of the retailer.

O’Brien has worked at several CPG companies including General Mills and Campbell Company. He was most recently chief executive of the Works Gourmet Burger Bistro chain. Florio most recently worked at Cara Operations, but has held finance and business development roles at Mars.

O’Brien told Canadian Grocer on Wednesday that an interest in the frozen category and M&M’s potential offering in that category is what drew him to the franchise.

“People are afraid of frozen. They’re afraid it’s a dying category, but it still represents 34% of all purchases for the home. Its growth as a category is still there, it’s the products within the category that have changed,” he explained.

“I like the benefits of what frozen delivers to the consumer. People are time-starved, and they appreciate the convenience,” he added.

O’Brien also pointed to frozen food being a cost-effective option for many families, citing about 40% of food in a consumer’s fridge is wasted. Food stored in the freezer, on the other hand, can keep for months.

M&M’s focus in coming months will primarily be on product innovation and marketing. According to O’Brien, M&Ms has about 94% awareness among Canadians. Now, the key will be bringing them back into the stores.

“My job is to make sure we stay ahead of the curve when it comes to product development and at the same time make sure people hear about it,” says O’Brien.

M&M was founded in 1980 by Mac Voisin, who will remain an adviser to the company.

“Canadians love and trust M&M Meat Shops because they can count on the quality and convenience of its products. I am confident that the new team will continue to ensure that the brand remains a Canadian favourite,” Voisin said.

M&M, based in Kitchener, Ont., has roughly 400 shops across Canada.

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