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Empire Expanding Voilà Grocery Home Delivery Into Western Canada

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Voilà has expanded its e-commerce offering to Alberta, with the launch of “Voilà by Safeway Curbside Pickup” setting the stage for its online grocery home delivery service in the province in 2023.

A Customer Fulfilment Centre is currently being built in Rocky View County, just outside of Calgary city limits, to facilitate the future growth. The new facility will create about 1,500 jobs in the province.

“We’re excited to continue investing in Alberta, bringing our cutting-edge technology to Albertans,” said Sarah Joyce, SVP E-commerce, Empire Company Limited. “These new online options will complement the exceptional in-store experience and assortment customers have come to expect of our Safeway, Sobeys, IGA, and FreshCo stores in Alberta.”

Julie Filion, Head of Marketing, ECommerce at Sobeys, said the Voilà concept was launched June 22 in the Toronto market with its delivery business being the first launch in the country.

“That business model we’re delivering out of the CFC. The Toronto CFC was the first CFC for the delivery-based model. This September we launched curbside pickup as a way to extend our e-commerce offering to more Canadians. We launched in curbside pickup in Nova Scotia as our first market.”

Currently Voilà covers the entire Greater Toronto Area and Greater Hamilton Area for delivery.

“We’re in the process of rolling out curbside pickup for hundreds of stores across the country,” said Filion. “We just launched four (Safeway) stores in Alberta three in Calgary and one in Edmonton. And we have an additional eight stores in Nova Scotia and you can expect a future rollout of stores across the country in the coming year.”

Safeway curbside pickup locations in Alberta include:

●        Safeway Shawnessy – 70 Shawville Boulevard SE, Calgary;

●        Safeway Castleridge – 55 Castleridge Boulevard NE, Calgary;

●        Safeway Southcentre – 11011 Bonaventure Drive SE, Calgary; and

●        Safeway Tera Losa – 9710 – 170 Street NW, Edmonton.

Orders are assembled by Voilà staff and delivered directly to customers’ cars to provide a contactless experience. Local customers can order online at Voilà.ca or by downloading the Voilà mobile app.

At the CFCs, robots assemble orders in an automated warehouse, resulting in minimal product handling, while Voilà staff use enhanced COVID-19 sanitization protocols to deliver orders safely to customers’ homes.

The first centre was established in Vaughan, Ontario. The company’s plan is to have four centres across the country. Another centre is coming in Pointe Claire, Quebec. A previous news release said that facility will be ready to deliver to customers in early 2022. The location of the fourth facility has not been announced. The first centre is 255,000 square feet and each facility’s size will depend on the market they are serving. They will be able to fulfil very large orders very rapidly. They are also huge opportunities for job creation.

“Our four fulfiment centres will allow us to serve 75 percent of Canadian households. Our curbside pickup model will be an alternative option where the market density doesn’t justify a fulfilment centre or like in the case of Alberta while we wait for the fulfilment centre to be built,” said Filion.

“This is allowing us to really bring an industry-leading online shopping experience to Canadians. Before the pandemic, and even more so with the pandemic, we have seen an acceleration of grocery e-commerce and this is a solution that Canadian families are looking to have to have increased convenience, a great shopping experience and we partner specifically with Ocado. Ocado is our technology partner.”

In Toronto, the concept is called Voilà by Sobeys. When it is launched in Quebec, it will be called Voilà par IGA and in Alberta it is Voilà by Safeway.

All the brands fall under the Empire Company Limited umbrella which is based in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, with about $28.4 billion in annual sales, $15 billion in assets, and employing about 127,000 people.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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