FreshCo celebrates the opening of its new store with store owner Asama Elsekely, centre cutting the ribbon, Mike Venton, far right and store staffFreshCo celebrates the opening of its new store with store owner Asama Elsekely, centre cutting the ribbon, Mike Venton, far right and store staff.

FreshCo celebrated the opening of its latest store in Oshawa, Ont., a 35,000 sq ft location in the northern part of the city.

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Grocery Business stopped by for the opening and spoke with Mike Venton, general manager discount format for Sobeys Inc. about the growth of discount.

Like all of its FreshCo stores, the Oshawa store reflects the needs of the local community, says Venton.

"With each store we examine the demographics of a community so every FreshCo is a bit different and we can expand or retract categories. We tailor the stores to the market."

For example, the Oshawa FreshCo is the first in the chain to venture into hot meal solutions with BBQ chicken. "It's a little more involved around food safety but there's a demand for it and it makes more sense now than ever as people are looking for meal solutions. The BBQ chicken is in our legacy as two Price Choppers, one in Leamington and one in Scarborough have it."

The first FreshCo to offer BBQ Chicken hot meal solutionsThe first FreshCo to offer BBQ Chicken hot meal solutions

To better meet the needs of the community, FreshCo changed how it presents some categories in the store. The back of the store features a refrigerated counter that anchors the meat department and is all multicultural items. And FreshCo added refrigeration for some of its fruit offerings near the front of the produce department "for better care of these products and to highlight them more in the shopping flow. So these items used to be in the back and now we've moved them up front."

The back of the store refrigeration unit features all multicultural meats.The back of the store refrigeration unit features all of the store's multicultural meats.

New refrigeration unit highlights fresh fruit at the front of the produce departmentNew refrigeration unit highlights fresh fruit at the front of the produce department

Venton expects the store to perform well as the area is a burgeoning neighbourhood that has seen rapid growth in recent years. Venton says part of his ongoing strategy is to continue to attract new and different demographics.

"One of the things we're doing is trying to attract people like me, who do a high component of their shop in discount and build the rest of their shop in full service. I consider this group smart shoppers so we need to have an assortment that would have the customer want to come back to us. It's a big reason we want to focus on fresh and are adamant about this; it's a loyalty driver.

From left: Mike Venton; Leigh Rowney of the Salvation Army that received a $2.500 donation from the new store; and store owner Asama ElsekelyFrom left: Mike Venton; Leigh Rowney of the Salvation Army that received a $2.500 donation from the new store; and store owner Asama Elsekely

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