Overwaitea kicks off Prairie expansion

First Save-On-Foods supermarket in Saskatchewan opens Friday

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People in Regina will have a new grocery store to shop at starting this weekend with the opening of Overwaitea Food Group’s first Save-On-Foods in the province.

The store (4520 Albert St. S.) opens Friday, with a grand opening planned on Saturday.

It marks the beginning of Overwaitea’s previously announced expansion into Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Right now, all of the company’s approximately 150 stores are in B.C. and Alberta.

READ: Overwaitea pushes for growth in the Prairies

Last summer, Overwaitea revealed plans to push east across the Prairies. In addition to the Regina store, the independent grocer said it would open in Yorkton, Moose Jaw and Saskatoon, in Saskatchewan, as well as three stores in Winnipeg.

Overwaitea’s expansion was spurred by the 2013 purchase of more than 200 Canada Safeway stores by Sobeys’ parent Empire Company.

That meant “one less competitor for us and presented new opportunities,” Overwaitea president Darrell Jones told Canadian Grocer last summer.

At the time Jones said that he planned to open another 60 stores, giving Overwaitea more than 200 in Western Canada.

In addition to building new stores, Overwaitea has also grown through acquisition.

Two years ago it purchased 15 stores from Sobeys, several of which Sobeys had to sell to get the OK for its Safeway takeover from the Competition Bureau.

Earlier this year Overwaitea took over a former Thrifty Foods location in Coquitlam, B.C. It also purchased three Marketplace IGA stores in the province from H.Y. Louie.

READ: H.Y. Louie sells three stores to Overwaitea

Overwaitea also began selling groceries online, offering pickup and delivery options to customers in some markets in British Columbia about a year and a half ago. It’s since expanded the service to other markets.

According to Global TV’s Morning News Regina, the Save-On store in that city will offer online delivery and pickup options to area residents.

In other news, Overwaitea was named “2015 Jim Pattison Group Company of the Year” last week.

The award is given annually to the Pattison company that “excels in operational excellence and business performance” during the past year, according to a press release.

Overwaitea won for its sales performance (numbers were not disclosed), customer service, sustainability commitments, and to its expansion strategy in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Overwaitea is one of 24 divisions in the privately held Pattison Group, owned by billionaire Jimmy Pattison.