Week of Feb. 7, 2011



CCGD Dissolved
The Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD) has been dissolved. One CCGD member has informally announced that the majority of the organization is moving to a new arm of the Retail Council of Canada (RCC). “On behalf of the entire CCGD team, I want to take this opportunity to thank you and your organization for your past support and participation,” wrote Nick Jennery, president and CEO, in an email announcement to industry insiders Friday, Feb. 4. “During CCGD’s 24 years, much was accomplished at the industry level. The CCGD team would like to acknowledge your valued support in helping to achieve our important goals and in advancing the industry’s agenda.” He added that the judging and product evaluations of the Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards — the longest-running awards program in the food industry — will be completed prior to the program transfer.

CCGD began more than 90 years ago as the Canadian Wholesale Grocer’s Association and later adopted its present business model to reflect new representation as a wholesale and distribution organization and its chain retail store membership with Loblaw, Metro, Sobeys, Safeway and Walmart (Costco is an affiliated member). CCGD distributor members included: Collabar, Colemans, Co-op, HY Louie, J.P. Beaudry and Kitchen Table. The foodservice members of CCGD were: Bedell’s Foodservice Distributors; Collabor Group Inc.; Flanagan Foodservice Inc.; GFS — Gordon Food Service; Reliable Food Supplies Inc.; Sysco Canada and Tannis Food Distributors.

The RCC was established in 1963 and represents more than 43,000 store fronts of all retail formats across Canada.

New Loan Extension, Financing, at Priszm
In an ongoing saga that has seen Priszm Income Fund seemingly pushed to the brink, the company has reported it has extended its forbearance and financing agreements with its senior debt lender to May 20. The agreements provide the company with an additional facility of up to $2.9 million. This is in addition to the $3.7 million already drawn by the company in respect of a Jan. 19 agreement. As part of the agreements, Priszm is required to work with the senior debt lender on an asset sale process to explore the potential sale of locations not subject to the previously announced sale of the Ontario and B.C. outlets. The company also reported it has reached an agreement with its franchisor, Yum! Restaurants International, to extend the franchise terms of the 70 outlets, which expired on Jan. 15 to Feb. 28, 2011.

The Bay Partners with Oliver & Bonacini and Compass
The Bay (Hudson Bay Company) is partnering with Oliver & Bonacini (O&B) Restaurants and Compass Group Canada for the conversion and re-branding of its 24 Bay store restaurants across Canada. The locations were previously operated in-house, under a variety of banners, by the Bay’s sister discount department store chain, Zellers. “This is an exhilarating partnership for The Bay as we join forces with two of the best foodservice and restaurant management companies in Canada to forge a progressive new vision for dining and events at Canada’s oldest and largest department store,” said Bonnie Brooks, president and CEO, The Bay. “We are currently planning the roll-out to all our major stores.”

O&B’s influence will be concentrated on Bay’s flagship locations such as the historic Arcadian Court at Toronto’s Queen Street store, which will be renovated and reinvented. The new and improved Queen Street location will include a full-service, state-of-the-art conference facility on the eighth floor; several new foodservice locations within the store; and a food hall. The 16-month construction schedule is expected to begin in April. Other O&B locations will include the Bar restaurants in Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre and in Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini operate 11 restaurants plus two events locations in the Greater Toronto Area. Compass Group Canada, which will operate in the smaller Bay markets, is an international provider of foodservice and support services with a wide variety of operations in Canada. Both O&B and Compass will be renting space from the Bay.

B.C. Plant Closure Announced at Maple Leaf
Maple Leaf Foods Inc. has announced plans to close its prepared meats facility in Surrey, B.C. on Sept. 30. “The closure of the Surrey plant is an important step towards consolidating our manufacturing at fewer, dedicated scale plants, resulting in reduced supply chain costs and better efficiencies,” said Rick Young, executive vice-president, Consumer Foods. The Surrey facility produces a variety of prepared meat products, including ham, sliced meats, sausage and deli products, primarily for retail and foodservice customers in Western Canada. The company will gradually wind down operations in May before closing in the fall. Production will be consolidated at Maple Leaf’s prepared meats facilities in Saskatoon, Manitoba and Ontario after some modest upgrades are completed.

2011 U.S. Restaurant Outlook Positive
U.S. foodservice operators’ have another reason to be optimistic about the year ahead with news there were gains in the monthly Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) of the National Restaurant Association. December’s RPI rose to 101.0, up 1.1 per cent over November, the third time in the past four months the index has risen above 100. The RPI is a monthly composite index that tracks the health and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry by measuring eight current situation and forward-looking indicators. Strong gains in same-store sales and customer traffic is reflected in the RPI index of key industry indicators. “The RPI’s solid gain in December was driven by improvements in each of the eight current situations and forward-looking indicators,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the NRA. “Driven by operators’ optimistic outlook for sales and economic conditions in the months ahead, the RPI’s Expectations Index rose to its highest level in nearly four years.” To read the complete report, click here.  

Sobeys Distribution Centre Planned for Quebec
This year, Sobeys Inc., Stellerton, N.S., is expected to begin construction on a new automated 470,000-sq.-ft. grocery distribution centre in Terrebonne, Que., scheduled to open in 2013. Using state-of-the-art technology implemented in the company’s Vaughan, Ont., facility, the new location will “increase Sobeys warehouse and distribution capacity while reducing overall distribution costs and improving service to its store network and customers.” The technology to be used includes a Witron Logistik Corp.-automated picking and assembly system for improved product selection accuracy and the ability to customize store deliveries according to the unique store layout of each of the company’s retailers. Sobeys will close its Rivière-du-Loup distribution centre, convert its Rouyn-Noranda facility to a cross-docking platform and refocus the mandates of its Montreal-North, Boucherville and Quebec City distribution centres. Sobeys owns or franchises more than 1,300 stores across the country.

RAMMP Acquires Mr. Mikes Steakhouse
Mr. Mikes Steakhouse & Bar, the 50-year-old Western Canada casual eatery, has been acquired by RAMMP Hospitality Brands Inc. from Fulmer Development Corp. and Fulmer’s partner Yellow Point Equity Partners, which stayed on as a partner of RAMMP. “We hope to grow it into a 100-unit chain nationally, starting with Western Canada,” Mike Cordoba, RAMMP CEO, told The Vancouver Sun. “We want to tap into the loyal following Mr. Mikes has developed over the past 50 years and listen to our customers to really take the casual, mid-range dining experience to the next level,” he explained in a press release. RAMMP plans to “re-energize” the brand with menu innovation and community outreach, while expanding to franchised locations in Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg and Calgary during the next few years. RAMMP already owns two restaurant chains: The Pantry Restaurants and Rockwell’s Bar & Grill acquired in December 2009.

Tim Hortons to Expand into Persian Gulf
The Oakville, Ont.-based Tim Hortons Inc. has announced an international master licensing agreement to open as many as 120 units with Dubai-based Apparel Group. “Our top strategic priority is continuing to grow our Canadian and U.S. businesses, which are the primary drivers of shareholder value. We also believe there is an opportunity over the long-term to explore international opportunities and seed the Tim Hortons brand in various markets outside of North America,” said Don Schroeder, president and CEO of Tim Hortons. “Our partners at Apparel have considerable knowledge of the local markets and consumer expectations and have introduced world-leading brands to the GCC.” The agreement includes countries from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman and calls for five locations to open this year. Apparel Group operates more than 600 stores in 14 countries under some 50 brand names, including Cold Stone Creamery, Tommy Hilfiger and Kenneth Cole.

TrainCan Food Safety Programs Recognized in Quebec
Toronto-based TrainCan’s BASICS.fst, ADVANCED.fst  and Train-the-Trainer food-safety training programs have been recognized as equivalent to Quebec’s MAPAQ certificates (attestations), effective January 2011. Instructors who have completed the TrainCan Train-the-Trainer program can resume training BASICS.fst and ADVANCED.fst in Quebec. All three TrainCan programs, which led to 18,300 certifications in 2010, are available in English and French. The recognition by MAPAQ’s Direction générale de la santé animale et de l’inspection des aliments (DGSAIA) does not bring any modification to the Quebec regulations; it is an administrative approval procedure that will be valid until the Quebec regulations are amended or for a duration established by MAPAQ. For more information, click here.

Technomic Forms New Brazil Marketing and Research Venture
Reflecting the growing internationalization of the foodservice and hospitality industry, Chicago-based Technomic Inc. and São Paulo-Brazil-based retail and marketing specialists Gouvêa de Souza (GS&MD) have created Gouvêa de Souza & Technomic Foodservice Latam. The new alliance will provide consulting, information, study tours, conferences, publications, market studies and entry strategy advice to companies interested in Brazil and other Latin American foodservice markets. Similarly, the new venture will help Brazilian and Latin American food and beverage suppliers develop business in the U.S. For more information, click here.

Local Sourcing, Healthy Kid’s Meals Top U.S. Trends — NRA/ACF
Local and hyper-local sourcing, healthy children’s meals, sustainable seafood and gluten-free cuisine lead the hottest 20 trends on restaurant menus in 2011, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot” survey, which earmarked mobile food trucks and pop-up restaurants as up-and-coming trends. “Locally sourced food and a focus on sustainability is not just popular among certain segments of consumers anymore; it has become mainstream. Diners are requesting to know where their food comes from and are concerned with how their choices affect the world around us,” said Michael Ty, American Culinary Federation (ACF) national president. More than 1,500 professional chef-members of the ACF were surveyed for the report.

New Mobile Apps Showcase P.E.I.
The P.E.I government has just made it easier to find restaurant and hospitality sites on the Island with the introduction of its new mobile tourism apps. “We created these mobile apps to ensure our visitors are always connected to the information they need when travelling,” said Tourism and Culture Minister Robert Vessey. “This includes events calendars, restaurant listings, great ideas for things to do while on the Island, places to stay and essential information like grocery store locations and maps.” The apps, accessible by Internet-ready smartphones, cull information from the Tourism P.E.I. website, the government of P.E.I. website and another source of culinary data. “These are the first tourism mobile apps in the Maritimes,” said Sebastian Manago, director of CRM and Sales for the department of tourism and culture. “They take advantage of advanced smartphone features such as GPS-location, itinerary planning and social media to deliver a simple and compelling user experience for visitors to the Island.” The apps are available for free download at the Apple store.

Caisse to Sell Hotel Portfolio
Montreal-based Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, whose portfolio includes hotel, apartment and retirement housing investments worth $4.7-billion as of December 2009, is selling its hotel holdings. “Hotels are a risky industry that take a lot of capital for a return comparable to what I could get from the office-building market,” Bill Tresham, head of the Caisse’s real estate subsidiary, SITQ Group, told the Montreal newspaper La Presse. “It’s probably not our line of work.” He said the fund will put certain properties up for sale this year and possibly exit its hotel investments entirely within three years.  Canada’s largest pension fund manager has majority stakes in high-profile properties such as Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier hotel, the Hilton Toronto and the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The Caisse’s holdings include 55 properties owned jointly with the Westmont Hospitality Group under the Fairmont, Hilton, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn brands as well as other banners, including five Westin hotels co-owned with Starwood Capital Group. The Caisse’s action comes at a time when the lodging sector financing industry is gaining traction. (See Jan. 31 TheWhat’sOnReport, under the headline Hotel Investment Market Looking Up.

Motel 6 and Studio 6 Locations to be Green Key Certified
All 1,100 Motel 6 and Studio 6 properties in North America are set to be Green Key certifiedby the end of 2011. The announcement from Accor North America, Dallas, follows the program’s successful initiation at 21 Canadian locations. “The Green Key program has been beneficial to our Canadian properties for several years and our participation in the U.S. pilot re-affirms the business and sustainability benefits of the program,” said Olivier Poirot, CEO of Accor North America, Motel 6 and Studio 6. “We are excited to see the positive impact it will have on all of our properties — corporate-owned and franchised — in the network.” The Canadian Hotel Association of Canada and American Hotel & Lodging Association partner on the Green Key program, which ranks, certifies and inspects hotels and resorts in North America based on sustainable principles.

Four Seasons Launches Family Travel Blog
The Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts recently launched an online family travel blog called Have Family Will Travel. Designed to host personal accounts of travelling with children, parents and extended families, the site also includes a complementary Memory Montage tool for travellers to create and share holiday videos. To access the blog, click here.


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