Toronto gourmet grocer Summerhill Market has completed its third major expansion in five years with the acquisition of another independent grocery company, All the Best Fine Foods.
The transaction includes All the Best Fine Foods’ approximately 800 sq.-ft. store at 483 Church St. in Toronto, as well as a roughly 4,000 sq.-ft. production facility located at 105 Vanderhoof Ave. Meanwhile, All the Best Fine Foods’ flagship store, located at 1101 Yonge St. in the city’s Rosedale neighbourhood, was permanently closed on Wednesday.
According to a report, the storefronts that comprised the neighbourhood’s so-called “Five Thieves”—a group including Harvest Wagon, the fishmonger Pisces, butcher shop Olliffe and the patisserie Patachou—have been sold to three Toronto developers for a reported $85-million.
Both Summerhill Market and All the Best Fine Foods specialize in gourmet prepared foods, although Summerhill owner Brad McMullen said that the latter’s expertise in cheese, breads and pastry complements his company’s proficiency in meat, produce and daily grocery.
“Their greatest strengths happen to be our greatest weaknesses, so it was a really good fit,” says McMullen.
McMullen says Summerhill plans to move a portion of its current production from its 8,000 square-foot production facility— which employs 85 people and operates approximately 20 hours per day— to All the Best Fine Foods’ operation. He says the changeover could happen as soon as next week.
“We’re extremely tight on space, so access to [their] kitchen was sort of the big aspect [of the deal],” he says. “We will look at our own operation and make decisions on what’s going to be made where, so we can have some greater efficiencies.”
Summerhill Market is also adding All the Best owners Sue Merry and Jane Rodmell to its staff for six and 12 months respectively to assist in the transition; McMullen says his company also plans to hire as many of All the Best Fine Foods’ approximately 40 staffers “as we can afford.”
Summerhill Market plans to retain the All the Best Fine Foods name, but is currently determining how to incorporate it into its prepared foods roster. “One idea was to have ‘All the Best of Summerhill Market’ and ‘All the Best of All the Best’ in a smaller format,” he says. “That’s one idea we may toy with to see if it works.”
McMullen says there is also “quite a lot” of overlap—as many as 100 products—between the two companies’ prepared food products, although there are as many as 100 All the Best products (including signature items such as flourless orange almond cake and cheese straws) that don’t have a competing Summerhill Market product. McMullen says it will likely take until the end of the month to untangle the various products.
This is the third major expansion for the 62-year-old Summerhill Market in the past five years, following the opening of a second location in 2011 and a partnership with online grocery delivery service Instabuggy announced at the beginning of the year.
McMullen says that the family-run company has “definite aspirations” to open additional stores, and is close to formalizing an agreement for a larger production facility. The company plans to move its existing production from its current location to a more central facility, while McMullen says the newly acquired All the Best Fine Foods production will help “bridge the gap” during the switch-over.