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Hall of Fame 2023: In conversation with Paul Bravi, senior vice president, Food Basics

Paul Bravi, senior vice president of Food Basics, is a 2023 Grocery Business Hall of Fame recipient.

First job in the business? I stumbled into the grocery business right after completing my university studies. Initially, I took a part-time job as a fish monger at Eaton’s gourmet shop in downtown Montreal. It was intended to be a temporary gig while I was looking for a more permanent career path. And I guess the rest is history. I ended up loving it so much that I never left. Throughout my career, I’ve gained hands-on experience in every facet of the industry, including high-end gourmet, conventional retail, and convenience stores. In 1999, I joined the Metro team, which opened doors for me to work in both Quebec and Ontario and, most recently, in discount at Food Basics. 

What do you like best about the industry? What I find most appealing in this industry is the constant excitement it offers. It is fast paced, demanding daily decision-making and flexibility to adapt to meet customer expectations. However, that’s not the only thing I like. I became a part of the industry during a time when it was beginning to embrace the principles of category management. As someone who’s enthusiastic about data and analytics, I was captivated by the innovative processes being introduced. This kept me deeply engaged and wanting more. Ultimately, this business is primarily about people, and you have to love that aspect of the job.

What can the industry do better? I believe that diversity has historically been and, to some extent, still remains a challenge within the industry. It’s my firm belief that the industry should reflect the diverse communities it serves. We have made strides, particularly in increasing the representation of women in corporate roles. There has also been notable improvement at the store level, but there is still substantial room for growth in this regard. Looking ahead, I see the next significant stride being the alignment of our stores and management teams with the rich diversity of our country.

A memorable career moment? Reflecting on one’s career journey, it becomes evident that certain small choices or moments can have a profound impact. In my case, the acquisition of Loeb by Metro in 1999 turned out to be a fortuitous twist of fate. Although I may not have fully grasped its significance at the time, it ultimately proved to be the best thing that could have happened for me. My time at Metro has been thoroughly enjoyable and I have cherished every moment of it. I’ve had the honour and privilege to collaborate with, and continue collaborating with, some of the industry’s finest professionals.

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