Digitized annual reports

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Groceteria
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Digitized annual reports

Post by Groceteria » 12 Dec 2019 21:31

A 15-year-old project at McGill to digitize a really nice collection of annual reports for Canadian corporations, including a number of grocery chains:

https://digital.library.mcgill.ca/hrcor ... s/home.htm

The projects seems to have gone dormant and probably will not be expanded, but there's a lot to see there!

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Andrew T.
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Re: Digitized annual reports

Post by Andrew T. » 13 Dec 2019 14:25

Great resource! I had stumbled across some of the documents on the McGill archive before, but hadn't been aware that they were linked from a centralized interface until now.

I've always found Oshawa to be the most mysterious Canadian supermarket operator; thanks to their tendency towards franchising and multiple brands. Here's what I was able to find:

1980: IGA is the only supermarket brand emphasized in the report. Food City amd Dutch Boy were barely given a mention even though they were owned by the corporation. The report also mentions "corporate IGA" stores (a contradiction?), and "non-affiliated food markets" which may have taken on any name. The non-affiliated markets were actually the biggest part of the company, with more than 1300 locations.

1981: Basically the same as 1980. The "non-affiliated" market tally goes above 1400. Subsequent to year end, the Ontario Food Division was renamed "Oshawa Foods."

1984: Food City finally begins to warrant a mention on the cover, and its logo has been redesigned to match the (co-owned) Towers department store wordmark. "Non-affiliated" stores are no longer tallied in "operations" totals, and begin to be de-emphasized. Also, the Oshawa Group now has an additional Ontario division: Elliott Marr and Company Limited of London. This is the first mention of Elliott Marr, so Oshawa must have bought them out in 1982 or 1983.

1985: Elliott Marr introduces the EMA franchise program, giving Oshawa two franchise brands. This was the year in which Dominion shut down, Safeway withdrew from southern Ontario, and Oshawa was a beneficiary. The percentage of corporate stores jumped from 7% to 20%, probably as a direct consequence.

1986: The corporation's focus shifts back to franchised stores. No change in brands or divisions.

1987: The Food Town franchise program is introduced.

It's too bad none of the newer years have been digitized; it would have been interesting to see how the Price Chopper brand was rolled out and whether or not this coincided with a large number of corporate Food Cities and Dutch Boys being "downloaded" to franchise status.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

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Andrew T.
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Re: Digitized annual reports

Post by Andrew T. » 13 Dec 2019 17:22

Now, for Loblaws! The aspect of the company's history that interests me the most is its protracted withdrawal from the United States.

The 1980 report describes the bloodletting that the company underwent 3 years earlier in 1977: Withdrawls from Chicago (140 stores), Milwaukee (24), Davenport (30), San Francisco and Los Angeles (34), and Syracuse (52). (Loblaws was in San Francisco and Los Angeles?!)

In 1979, Loblaws/National had US divisions in Minneapolis (76 stores), St. Louis (49), New Orleans (56), and Indianapolis (57). Loblaws was also back in expansion mode, buying out Applebaums of St. Paul, Minnesota.

The 1980 annual report doesn't have a divisional or state-by-state breakdown. It also mentions a division in Erie, Pennsylvania that the 1979 report says nothing about. The 1979 report does however mention an upstate New York subsidiary, Peter J. Schmitt, and it appears that the Erie stores were operated from this subsidiary. By 1982, 19 corporate Loblaws stores had been opened in the Erie area. Schmitt also supplied Bells stores in upstate New York, which bore an orange "Loblaw-ized" logo a la Zehrs.

The Indianapolis division was sold in July 1982 to Marsh and the Indiana Grocery Company of Indianapolis. Five months later, the Minneapolis division was divested to Gateway Foods of La Crosse, Wisconsin, who had also inherited some of Kroger's Wisconsin assets in the 1970s. 1982 was also the year that National Tea finally became a 100%-owned subsidiary of Loblaws, almost 30 years after Weston bought a controlling stake in the company.

In 1984, Loblaws/National opened the first 69,000sf Superstore in Louisiana. This was followed in 1985 by the first 95,000sf store bearing the Real (not-so-Canadian) Superstore name.

In 1986, of course, Loblaws/National bought Kroger's St. Louis division. The deal covered 24 operating supermarkets, 2 stores under construction, and a warehouse that they promptly closed. This was probably the last time Loblaws was ever in a stateside acquisition mode.

The 1987 annual report contained a state-by-state store breakdown: Louisiana, 42 (including 3 superstores); Missouri, 41; Illinois, 18; Pennsylvania, 7 (plus 58 franchises); New York, 6 (plus 76 franchises); Mississippi, 3; Ohio, 2 (plus 70 franchises); Alabama, 1; West Virginia, 1. (There was a Loblaws store in West Virginia in 1987?!)

In August 1988, the Peter J. Schmitt division was sold. This marked the end of Loblaws' presence on the US side of the Great Lakes watershed. Schmitt was primarily a wholesale operation by this point, but I assume this also resulted the closure of the (few) Loblaws-branded stores in and around Erie.

In 1990, the state-by-state store breakdown was: Missouri, 40; Louisiana, 19 (including 4 Real Superstores); Illinois, 17; Mississippi, 1; Alabama, 1. The store count would change little in the next 5 years, and the stateside Superstore concept would never expand beyond Louisiana.

The 1990-91 annual reports also show the company having "wholesale independent accounts" in a large swath of eastern states from Maine down to South Carolina. Unfortunately, not much detail is given about them. Maybe these were just states they sold President's Choice products in?

The 1994 report lists 58 National stores, 7 Real Superstores, 7 Canal Villere stores, 11 That Stanley! stores, and 2 "other banners." That Stanley! was a Louisiana-specific limited assortment banner; something like No Frills, but corporate. The reports don't say much about Canal Villere, but I found a piece on it here.

The 1994 report notes that "an agreement to sell the United States retail assets, including all 85 supermarkets is expected to close during the second quarter of 1995." And that was the end of that...
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

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