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Loblaws is acquiring T&T

Man, this kind of sucks. T&T is well run, good prices, etc. Loblaws is going to ruin that.

Loblaw to acquire T&T Supermarket, Canada's largest Asian food retailer
T&T to operate as separate division of Loblaw

BRAMPTON, ON, July 24 /CNW/ - Loblaw Companies Limited ("Loblaw") (TSX:
L) today announced that the shareholders of T&T Supermarket Inc. ("T&T") have
entered into an agreement with Loblaws Inc., a subsidiary of Loblaw, for the
purchase of all the common shares of T&T Supermarket, Canada's largest Asian
food retailer. The purchase price will be $225 million, with certain
adjustments to be made at closing. $191 million of the purchase price will be
funded by cash and the remaining through preferred shares issued by T&T, the
value of which will be tied to the future performance of the business.
"We are delighted with this acquisition", said Galen G. Weston, Executive
Chairman of Loblaw Companies Limited. "T&T's talented management team and
colleagues have developed what we believe are the best Asian stores in Canada,
which will be used to help Loblaw extend its ethnic offering to better serve
Canada's largest growing customer segment."
T&T Supermarket began operations in 1993 and now operates 17 stores in
the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario and four distribution
centres, three in Vancouver and the other in Toronto. T&T Supermarket offers a
robust Asian food offering with emphasis on fresh and ready to consume meals.
"Some of our customers have a nickname for us - The Asian Loblaw. Today
we are proud it has become a reality", said Cindy Lee, CEO of T&T Supermarket
Inc. "This acquisition recognizes all of our employees' hard work over the
years and the great business we have built. Together with Loblaw, we will
continue to celebrate our authenticity while maintaining and enhancing our
customers' shopping experience. With the strong backing of Loblaw and the
commitment of our employees, we look forward to continued growth and
effectively serving Asian food to even more families across Canada."

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  1. Probably the smartest thing the Weston twerp will ever do.

    1 Reply
    1. There goes the great selection of Asian products. How long before we see bland house brands like "Memories of......." or "Blue Menu Geoduck burgers" squeezing out the real thing? Wonder about the fresh sea food too...not good news for the consumer.

      3 Replies
      1. re: tuttebene

        This will be quite a challenge for Loblaw's, but they have managed to homogenize Zehr's, Fortino's, and Ziggy's, and they'll do it with T&T as well.
        As the OP says, " this kind of sucks".

        1. re: jayt90

          This report by the usually reliable Marina Strauss indicates that T&T will be run as a separate division.

          One comment on the Globe's page is interesting: "why would the competition bureau allow this?"
          Hopefully the Competition Bureau will publish their position on this acquisition.

        2. Wicked suckage. Hopefully this will convince people to shop instead at the smaller markets in Chinatown, which deserve your business more.

          14 Replies
          1. re: vorpal

            Thanks for the crap news, grandgourmand. Agree with the others that this bodes suckily.

            Meanwhile, which Chinatown shops do you recommend, vorpal? I do some of my shopping in Chinatown, but I have to admit that a lot of the fish counters leave me a little squidgy. Is there anyplace you'd recommend as a suitable alternative to T&T?

            1. re: vorpal

              maybe its me, but i trust T&T produce more than i trust little Chinatown produce.
              never understood why there are 3 bins of red peppers.
              1 bin is $2.99/lb
              2nd bin is $1.99/lb
              3rd bin is $0.99/lb

              like, is there something i should know?

              1. re: vorpal

                I'm all for supporting smaller enterprise, but I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the smaller shops deserve my business. Aside from the iffy quality control in some places, you also have to consider how their employees are treated. I'm assuming they don't offer RRSP matching or health benefits in many cases.

                1. re: grandgourmand


                  Just to play devil's advocate, perhaps it will mean a bigger foot print for T&T and not a signal that the end is near.


                  1. re: Davwud

                    Sorry but T&T appealed largely because it wasn't a malodorous dump. There's nothing preferable, authentic, or smarter about buying from Spadina/Dundas shops where quality and labour law compliance are afterthoughts. All that changed forever once the Chinese community shifted NE in the 80s. Places like H&H and Yuan Ming in Mississauga, both slipping badly, won't survive against more, bigger, better T&T outlets.

                    1. re: Kagemusha

                      Exactly. Speaking as an asian myself. I stay far far away from Chinatown because quality is not the priority down there. Chinese business will cut corners wherever they can to make a buck. T&T was truly revolutionary in bringing modern standards to chinese grocers. Look at all the copy cats that have sprung up since they came to town. Remember the stench filled Big Land markets that used to be the "leader"?

                      1. re: sbug206

                        Agree 100%. The closest Asian supemarket to me is T. Phat in Pickering... we went 3 days after they opened and it was already disgusting. Rotten seafood smell, sticky grimy floors... ugh. We go to T&T despite the drive to avoid the stink.

                        Because the independents are so weak, Loblaws can make a mint if they just keep T&T "business as usual", but you know they won't. Expect to see them rebranded as "Loblaws Asian Superstore" :-)

                        1. re: TexSquared

                          The best thing for them to do would be to keep T&T as is, but pool their general mercandise (i.e. western stuff) purchases to take advantage of Loblaws purchasing power. And then roll-out the T&T franchise under the same banner. They haven't re-branded Zehrs, Fortino's, etc. Just added PC products (and Loblaws poor inventory management).

                          I wonder if we'll see T&T stock Memories of Shanghai...that would be funny.

                          1. re: grandgourmand

                            The Zehr's I visit (rarely) in Strathroy is a dead ringer for any modern Loblaw store. The original Zehr in KW used to buy everything he could get from local Mennonite farms. Loblaw changed that, and has a record of changing or eliminating stores they buy.

                            1. re: jayt90

                              Yeah, OG Zehr's stores were the best. They made incredible doughnuts :-) Not anymore, though

                        2. re: sbug206

                          Well, T&T doesn't sell turtle meat cut to order from a living beast as Big Land once did. Does that mean less really fresh food, or does that mean thank heavens...

                          1. re: embee

                            Mmm... soft-shelled turtle.

                      2. re: grandgourmand

                        I wonder how long it will take before the NFCW starts their T&T organizing campaign?

                    2. Its not terribly surprising given that in recent months, Loblaws has been printing many in store Asian fliers, guaranteed to help test their market to see responses, not withstanding the ever growing Asian population in Ontario.

                      Either way, I will still stick to the Sunny Market (Asian market) owned by Asians, run by Asians, with consistently high quality produce.

                      1. gasp! oh this totally sucks!!!

                        i LOVE going to T&T ... CLEAN, good quality, no funky smells and always well stocked. and now loblaws has to ruin it?? let's hope T&T doesn't inherit the same supply chain issues as loblaws ... :(

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lilaki

                          If Loblaw has $225 million at its disposal, perhaps it would be better spent on renovating their (older) stores, introducing better products, and lowering the prices of the products they do carry in their own stores. Just a thought.

                          Oh, and why not spend the $225 million on the Supercentre that was promised in Maple Leaf Gardens?

                        2. Well,

                          1. I expect that they will change very, very little. T&T is a success, they won't make many changes in the short term.

                          2. I like my shopping experiences at Loblaws. The stores I frequent are well run, well stocked, and better priced than their competitors. I don't get the Loblaws bashing here. Perhaps the stores I frequent are the exceptions (Loblaws at Queen's Quay, Vic & Gerrard and occasionally Redway – compared with Bayview/Eglinton or Eglinton Square Metro locations, and Sobeys on Laird).

                          That said, I buy produce and meats from farmer's markets or other local/ethical sources.

                          3. I, for one, can think of a few ways to improve T&T (improved store and aisle layout and product display, better selection of dry-goods and household products) and some of those would be more easily achieved with Loblaws involved.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Atahualpa

                            I agree with you. I don't think Loblaws is terrible, just expensive. I tend to shop at their No Frills brand, and I find the one at Yonge and 16th in Richmond Hill very well stocked, excellent meat and fresh seafood, great produce, and relatively short lines.

                            And the few times I went to the T&T at Promenade, I found it.. dirty, smelly, and not inspiring. We were going strictly to buy live lobster or crab, and their seafood was definitely lively and inexpensive. But their produce section? Puh-lease. It looked like the floor hadn't been washed in weeks, and was littered with discarded stalks, etc. I felt grubby just standing there.

                            For Asian foods, we tend to go to the Price Chopper at Leslie and Major Mac now. Good selection - including an in-house BBQ - in an atmosphere that doesn't leave me queasy.

                            1. re: FrankDrakman

                              T&T really let the cleanliness of the Promenade store slide in the past year or so - however about a month ago the whole store underwent a scrubbing like I have never seen before ( maybe for the Loblaws crew due dilligence??) and all the nasty smells disappeared.

                              1. re: Pizza Lover

                                I've never been to the Promenade store. I frequent the Cherry St. location. It is generally very clean indeed. Likewise, the Warden and Steeles location has been nice on the occasions I've been there.

                                Certainly a set up from Chinatown shops.

                          2. Shame shame shame shame shame, did I say shame? I gave up on Loblaw's 3 years ago and just discovered T & T. I hope Galen doesn't turn it into Memories of T & T.

                            1. Although I've never been to T&T, even I can't say I'm happy about this news. Because I think T&T will get rebranded and smoothed out to fit into the Loblaws corporate family and lose its Asian edge.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Pincus

                                I'd recommend run, don't walk, to your nearest T&T so you can see it before Loblaws screws it up...

                                1. re: Pincus

                                  I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. While T&T is cleaner and offers a wider selection than most other Asian stores, it's still not as clean as a typical Loblaws superstore. And while T&T emphasizes Chinese (with some Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese Filipino, etc.) products, perhaps Loblaws will expand it to encompass the large and growing South Asian market. Loblaws would also benefit through acquiring T&T's knowledgeable buyers and contacts with Asian suppliers.

                                2. In the first 5 hours of the OP's post, there have been three in favor of the deal, the rest against. No neutrals.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: jayt90

                                    Doubt the Westonette sniffs glue, jayt90. Why would they commit to the purchase if the plan was to trash the T&T concept and clone more low-yield Loblaws outlets?

                                    1. re: Kagemusha

                                      T&T hires immigrants and students. Loblaw probably has better employee plans and more complacency. These groups will meld into Loblaw, or clash.
                                      As embee says, there will be some organizing.

                                      1. re: jayt90

                                        Loblaws around Mississauga are practically devoid of grown-ups, especially on weekends when very few lifers are aboard.

                                    2. re: jayt90

                                      I would like to say that my comment should be viewed as neutral. I do not know what I said that would be construed as me particularly favouring the deal. I just don't think it is a negative.

                                      1. re: Atahualpa

                                        And I thought mine was relatively non committal.


                                    3. I am very disappointed in this acquisition. T&T will not be the same. The produce at T&T is way better than Superstore(our Loblaws in the West Coast). It's more fresh and cheaper than Stupidstore.

                                      1. Good move for Loblaw's and good move for T&T. Terrible - just terrible - for all of us.

                                        Some store amalgamations are for the best. I doubt that anyone cried when the Weston owned Power and Super City chains were absorbed into Loblaw's, or when Steinberg's bought Grand Union.

                                        I'm old enough to remember when Loblaw's took over Fortino's They quickly realized that "the ethnics can market to the ethnics more effectively than we can market to the ethnics".

                                        That was then. Show me the difference between a Loblaw store and a Fortino store today. You can't, because there isn't any. A good Fortino's might have a larger stock of Italian products and deli than most Loblaw locations, but this is no different from stocking kosher meat at Forest Hill and Bayview Village, or better fish at Queen's Quay.

                                        There is NO difference today, other than geographic boundaries, between a Loblaw's and a Zehr's. Ziggy's, which appeared when they bought Tip Top Meats, no longer exists other than on a few product labels.

                                        Eventually the Loblaw management will insinuate themselves into more and more aspects of T&T's operations, simply because their attitude is that nobody does it better than they do - even when they don't.

                                        I expect we may see a slight increase in Asian product lines at suitably located Loblaw stores. I expect we will see significant price increases and the eventual reduction of available SKUs at T&T.

                                        I believe T&T had already announced their intention to offer much more South Asian merchandise.

                                        1. Unbelievably sucky.

                                          If (it's a very big if...) Loblaws leaves T&T alone, this trick may put some brakage on their continuing downward slide -- I used to love Loblaws but gotta say Sobeys and Dominion, er, Metro have been pulling me in more over the last few years.

                                          I'm a downtown person and the few times I've been to Fortino's and Zehrs outside the gta I can't say at all if I'd known they were at any time an 'ethnic' store with any distinct identity.

                                          To me, it just rotten-produce-plus-room-termperature-shellfish stinks of desperation on the part of the revolving-door-turning-ego-milking-brainiacs of the Loblaws executive management. So typical of arrogant fat-cats to throw money at their problems. Hello? Who can say they really like the expensive and inconvenient 'refreshes' at Christie or Vic Park -- good-looking stores to begin with. They will sink T&T with their blandness. If these clowns were really serious about their business and had an original clue (as they had in abundance about 15 years ago) they could do something creative and build and improve on their strengths and existing infrastructure... I think of some really wonderful No Frills locations that are that 'Asian loblaws' store with a Chinese bakery and bbq meats counter. Well-stocked and priced with basics -- cleaner than typical asian grocers and more flavour than the western standards.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: neighborguy

                                            I'm in for a pool to predict when the Weston twerp first appears on TV over-dubbed in guoyu or Cantonese touting T&T. Let's face it, T&T isn't perfect. It does provide a good range of Chinese staples, produce, take-out and eat-in food; produce is OK, meat and fish are sub-OK--but who expects high quality in those depts from a supermarket? Hyper-clean, decent prices, no chattel slavery, suburban locations, longer hours--why would Loblaws screw that up? T&T in Mississauga runs like a Rolex compared to nearby Loblaws operations there--some almost within sight of the big corp HQ, too!

                                            1. re: neighborguy

                                              What 'ethnicity' was Zehr,s before the takeover?

                                              1. re: hungryann

                                                Mr. Zehr came from a German background, and had strong ties to the Mennonite community near Kitchener.

                                            2. Galen Weston is not a stupid man. I expect that aquiring T&T will improve the Loblaws brand. They will gain access to T&T's suppliers, and learn loads about the asian food 's market. T&T will probably change somewhat, but who's to say if it will be for the better or worse? Lets just wait and see before we make any snap judgements. Unharness the bandwagon for now chowhounds!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: haggisdragon

                                                While your point is taken, Loblaw's does have a history with this kind of thing. BTW, isn't Allan Leighton (rather than Weston 2) actually calling the shots?

                                                1. re: embee

                                                  I would guess the influencers on that type of decision would be equal parts Leighton & Father-Weston with son having some input. But the deal would not be approved without Galen Weston Sr's approval.

                                                  I disagree with jayt90's assessment that all the Loblaws names have become the same. The Zehr's that I frequent are more like Sobey's than Loblaws, but usually with better prices. The only Fortino's I know (Woodbridge) is a far more pleasant shopping experience than any Loblaws I've been in, but the prices seem higher, so I rarely go there. Besides, it isn't very convenient.

                                                  What concerns me most about this deal is what might happen to selection. Loblaws has been steadily eliminating ("rationalizing") product from it's selection. Even if T&T is run as a separate division, eventually, I can see the pressure to reduce slow-moving items.

                                              2. Cool! I think this could be a sign of great things to come...from Loblaws [and T&T].

                                                T&T has been selling Bagel World product for quite a few months now so they have already begun venturing into new ethnicities. I thought I would point that out before people start accusing Loblaws of taking the stores in a non-asian direction.

                                                1. So does this mean that Loblaws will start selling late day specials of prepared foods for under $5 like T&T does? I like getting bbq or roast pork from T&T that easily serves as a meal for two or an appetizer for 4 for under $5. As for the acquisition, there will be product alignment, synergies realized, supply chain alignment, efficiencies gained and logistical improvements.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: GoodGravy

                                                    I can't see much that Loblaw can offer T&T in alignment, efficiencies, and synergy.
                                                    It's all flowing the other way, and Loblaw will probably blow it. That's the fear in most of these posts.

                                                  2. My local T&T is WAY cleaner and has much better produce than my local Superstore.

                                                    1. I complained about the merger to the Competition Bureau, and received a perfunctory reply from an officer in Toronto.
                                                      I think we have to make them aware of our thoughts, so that there is a fair, and transparent review.


                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: jayt90

                                                        Heard back today from the Competition Bureau. If they review this takeover, it will be closed, not transparent. We shall have to wait, and apply to Freedom of Information to get details, if any.

                                                      2. ...I always thought T&T was like the Loblaws of Asian supermarkets, very overpriced. I guess I don't see the big outrage. I assume it'll be the same, how hard is it to just not change anything?

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: AngelSanctuary

                                                          T&T may be "overpriced" by some standards. It certainly costs more than the Asian stores on Gerrard St. However, it is cheaper overall than Loblaw's.

                                                          T&T is MUCH cheaper for seafood (better than Loblaw's), meat (comparable except for beef steaks & roasts), and produce (usually better than Loblaw's). T&T isn't necessarily cheaper on mainstream North American groceries, but that's not its purpose. Strangely to me, T&T often charges less for dairy.

                                                          T&T also offers a much different shopping experience than the other Asian stores in my area of Toronto. (Perhaps things are better up north.) Our local T&T is clean, smells good, and has much tastier and more interesting prepared food - usually discounted late in the afternoon. Checkout is faster and friendlier.

                                                          Loblaw's seems to find it impossible to "just not change anything". From the seventies through the eighties, most of their changes were good ones. For more than a decade, though, it has been steadily downhill. Fortino's and Zehr's have lost their individual identities, save for the signs on their buildings. Superstores have been a disaster in Ontario.

                                                          The supposed magic of "synergy", "convergence", and "efficiency" always seem to sneak in, however often they fail. Loblaw's still can't keep many of their stores stocked, despite outsourcing their warehousing and distribution to a logistics company. Consider the wonderful "success" stories of synergy, convergence, and efficiency at "HBC", "BellGlobeMedia", and the like.

                                                          If we assume that Allan Leighton, rather than poster boy Galen Jr, is the real brains behind Loblaw's today, Leighton's last retail triumph strikes me as interesting. He rescued a British retailer, ASDA, from impending doom by engineering its sale. See picture below.

                                                          Note that this is pure, wild eyed, speculation. I haven't had an inside track to Loblaw's in a very long time.

                                                          1. re: embee

                                                            Why do people hate Loblaws as much as Wal-Mart? Because both companies steal each others executives. They are run by the same minds. Most of Loblaws execs have worked for Wal-Mart.
                                                            Yes folks now you can hate them equally.

                                                        2. This report in the Vancouver Sun gives us more information than the Toronto press:

                                                          Be sure to read the comments, mostly from Asians, and split 50/50 on the acquisition.

                                                          1. Any changes noticed lately?

                                                            I don't go to T&T often but I was there yesterday (steeles) and it looked kind of different, or was it just me?
                                                            Things were stacked, especially veggies (kind of unusual) and a lot of fruits were covered says my SO with plastic wrap.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: BamiaWruz

                                                              The sale to Loblaw hasn't been approved by the Competition bureau yet, so it appears to be business as usual.
                                                              However, the latest flyer indicates they are looking for new locations. I think Ottawa is due to open soon.

                                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                                Oh thanks for letting me know. I thought it was a done deal because I'm pretty sure they even sent it out in one of their surveys phrasing it as " did you know loblaw companies purchased T&T..." and that's when I first found out.