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Grocery Business Hall of Fame: In conversation with Rob Adams, Sobeys GM of Discount (retired)

Rob Adams

Sobeys GM of Discount (retired)

First job in the business? Management trainee for National Grocers. It was a great entry-level job that exposed me to the wholesale side of the business, with my main responsibilities being key account sales to our c-store customers.

What do you like best about the industry? The grocery store business is relatively simple and easy to copy; however, success was driven by the commitment and execution of the people at the office and store level. I saw many cases where businesses with equal chance of success had one rise to the top based on the efforts of a few great leaders. 

What can the industry do better? Find more ways to create awareness and opportunities of solid career paths from the stores to the office and vice versa. Too often, the stores are seen as a revolving door for labour, especially in the part-time ranks. I think store experience is critical to the tool chest for those aspiring to make a career at the head-office level.

A memorable career moment? A couple stand out. At No Frills, when we opened our 100th store, we created the Dollar Ad (1.00), to promote and celebrate the banner achievement. It was a tremendous success and our customers looked forward to the promotion every year thereafter. In May of 2010, under a veil of secrecy, we were busy rebranding Price Chopper to FreshCo and we opened the first eight FreshCo stores in the Brampton and Mississauga markets. It was the beginning of a multi-year transformation that saw 57 FreshCo stores open in that first year.

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