Originally printed in the March 2019 issue of Produce Business.
A community-specific emphasis backed by the highest fresh standards helps this growing retailer thrive.
Located in the tranquil, Italian-influenced Montreal suburb of Rivière-Des-Prairies (known to locals as RDP), Intermarché Lagoria embodies the quintessential specialized Montreal retailer. This neighborhood store offers a wide variety of high-quality foods in meat, fruits, vegetables, bread and cooked meals, all customized to meet specific customer demands.
This Rivière-des-Prairies outlet is the original location opened in 1991 by Nino Chimienti, president, along with family members. “We found success in this format, and it began to grow into a second, then third store, and finally six locations,” he says. “We are now an affiliate banner of Loblaws, with operating partners for most of the stores, but this original store is still fully owned by our family.”
With 30,000 square feet, the RDP store is the largest of all the Intermarché Lagoria banners. All the stores pride themselves on specifically serving their local community’s needs. “We look at who our community is and what they’re looking for,” says Chimienti. “We cater to small or large families and a variety of ethnic origins. We try to touch on everything imaginable to service our particular clientele.”
That produce is a crucial part of the retail operation is evidenced by the 10,000-square-foot produce department — one-third the space of the entire store. “Fresh products are paramount to our business,” says Chimienti. “And, produce is the most important part of my store.”
Chimienti emphasizes the store distinguishes itself from other banners with its produce. “We have great variety and offer produce in many different ways,” he says. “Our flexibility and focus on specific customer needs means we can offer things our competitors can’t.”
Quality and variety are key elements of the store’s produce philosophy, and Chimienti takes a hands-on approach. “I stick my nose into the produce side a lot more than in any other department,” he says. “If you look at our ratio of sales compared to conventional supermarkets, it illustrates what produce is for us. In any conventional supermarket, produce represents about 10 to 12 percent of volume sales. In my stores, it represents almost 30 percent.”
To assure the best produce, the store sources mostly from Montreal-based companies, including Gaetan Bono, Chenail Import-Export, Canadawide and Courchesne Larose. “We do business with most of the Montreal-based wholesalers and traders because they all offer something individual and specific,” says Chimienti. “We count on a variety of solid suppliers to ensure our produce is top quality and consistent.”
Abundant Market Feel
The store’s merchandising goal is to create a farm market environment. “We want it to look like the produce came directly from the farm into our stores,” says Chimienti. “We handle on average 200 to 250 different items.”
And, Chimienti notes, presentation of an ample amount of produce is fundamental. “People want to see product, not tables of wood with three items on them,” he says. “For example, here a customer will find 30 cases of Clementines on display, whereas another store may only have two cases on display. We display in volume, giving our customers the incentive to want to buy.”
The store sells produce by the case, packaged or loose. “We want to accommodate everybody, no matter how much or little they need,” says Chimienti. “If you’re looking for produce, there is no way you’ll walk into my store and not buy anything.”
The department does seasonal resets to change the layout. “For example, in winter our layout changes, especially in fruits,” says Chimienti. “We’ll go much wider and larger on citrus. In summer, we’ll go larger on stone fruits and local product. We adjust to what’s available and good quality.”
Chimienti notes the store relies on a weekly store circular, a weekly page in the neighborhood paper and word of mouth for its promotions. “Our customers count on us to find them the best produce for the best value,” he says. “We definitely cater to the seasonality of the product and promote what is good in each season.”
9025 Boulevard Maurice-Duplessis
Hours: Mon–Fri 8 a.m.- 10 p.m.; Sat–Sun 8 a.m.–8 p.m.