Sobeys owner to acquire Farm Boy grocery chain

Sobeys owner to buy Farm Boy for $800 million

The owner of Sobeys, Empire Company, has reached an agreement to purchase the Farm Boy grocery chain for $800 million.

The deal, which is expected to close in early 2019, is meant to ramp up Farm Boy's face in the GTA and southwestern Ontario through new stores and Sobeys store conversions.

Medline said Farm Boy has a winning formula, calling it a "jewel of an asset". "They have a proven business model with an established brand ... and a significant runway for growth". "Its fresh, ready-to-eat and private label offerings are particularly appealing to urban and suburban consumers", said a statement from Michael Medline, President and CEO of Empire.

Bellemare opened the first Farm Boy store in Cornwall in 1981, expanding to Ottawa the next year.

The acquisition comes as competition in the grocery space continues to heighten, with Amazon acquiring Whole Foods Market previous year.


Empire says Farm Boy products will also be added to Sobeys' Ocado-based e-commerce business, an online grocery platform which will launch in 2020 in the Greater Toronto Area.

Ottawa-based Farm Boy, which specializes in "farm-to-table" wholesale, will be acquired from Berkshire Partners, following which it will be set up as a separate company within Empire's structure.

Farm Boy may eventually expand to other areas of Canada, said a statement from co CEO Jeff York that called the sale an "extraordinary opportunity". Empire will provide help with logistics and real estate, Medline said in the call.

"This was it, and this was the timing", he said. "We don't want to ruin the magic of Farm Boy".

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