Calgary Co-op Rebrands Retail Operations [Interview]

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One of Calgary’s most successful grocery store chains is rebranding across all of its lines of business and embarking on enhanced member benefits.

Co-op will become Calgary Co-op with a new visual identity and positioning for all its locations including food, pharmacy, wine spirits beer, cannabis, home health care stores and gas stations.

The rebrand and a new logo will roll out in the coming months throughout the locally-owned cooperative’s operations.

Ken Keelor

“We have been known by our members as Calgary Co-op for some time, and now we’ll lean into a new visual identity,” said Ken Keelor, CEO of Calgary Co-op, adding that the new logo demonstrates several elements, including the open arms of the brand’s co-operative values, as well as the local producers whose hands seed the fields.

“We’ll be positioning ourselves in the market with our ‘Life’s in Store’ brand platform, showcasing Calgary Co-op’s commitment to providing life’s essentials, as well as a lifetime of benefits, rewards and savings for our members. More than ever, we are committed to local, exceptional in-store experiences, and an increased investment in the community,” he said. 

“Just like the city we call home, we are continuing to evolve how we serve our community to provide our best to our members. By listening intently to our team members and members, we have set a confident path forward for our co-operative. We will continue to be a strong community pillar, and we’ll keep giving back in meaningful ways, by engaging with local companies and producers, and bringing our very best to our members every day.”

Calgary Co-op’s stores will transform throughout 2023.
Image: Calgary Co-op

Owned by members, Calgary Co-op is one of the largest retail co-operatives in North America. Locations in Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, High River, Okotoks, and Strathmore include food centres, pharmacies, gas stations, car washes, commercial cardlocks, home health care centres, wine, spirits, and beer locations, cannabis, Community Natural Food stores and Beacon Pharmacies. With over 400,000 members, 3,850 employees, assets of $627 million and annual sales of $1.2 billion, Calgary Co-op was recognized as one of Alberta’s Top 75 Employers of 2022.

The first store opened on November 15, 1956. North Hill Centre, Calgary Co-op’s second store, opened in 1960.

In recent years, Calgary Co-op has focused on developing its private local brands – Cal & Gary’s and Founders & Farmers. 

“For over 65 years, Calgary Co-op has served the community of Calgary and the surrounding areas. We defined our promise very specifically a few years ago and it’s a promise to build an exceptional customer experience every time. And as times change, we feel we need to transform to continue to meet the needs of our members,” said Keelor. 

Calgary Co-op’s stores will transform throughout 2023.
All of Calgary Co-op’s lines of business are rolling out the new identity, marking a new era for the brand.

“So, one of the biggest pieces is setting ourselves apart from our competition, signaling the modernization of our co-operative more openly, and committing more to the communities which we serve. In other words, committing more to Calgary. We’re called Co-op but putting Calgary in the name we feel is very important for Calgarians.

“The transformation begins with the new brand . . . with the logo symbolizing a new era for us. And our members quite frankly have known us as Calgary Co-op for a long time and many are now hearing that through as we lean in with a new visual identity.”

The brand will also be rolling out new technology for its members later in 2023, including a new member-facing app offering instant rewards and benefits, a new modernized membership program, better transparency to patronage earnings and enhancing the ways members can save.

Image: Calgary Co-op
Image: Calgary Co-op

Keelor said the initiative of transforming the brand goes hand in hand with its launch of the private brands a few years ago. It’s the next stage of evolution for the company.

“In the first phase, we sought a more independent focus on the Calgary market in our food business and we found the way to get there was to create our own brands, reflecting this market in Cal & Gary’s and Founders & Farmers. We created our own flyers, began working on our flyers that can reflect private brands as well as local products. We enhanced local – over 2,500 items now,” said Keelor.

“So that was the first phase I would say of differentiation. We hadn’t thought about necessarily doing what we’re doing right now. But as the years have gone by from there – three years have gone by, by the way – we realized we need to do more to enhance the benefits our members are getting and if we’re going to do that we also want to signal the transformation up front. 

“So this transformation, just doing our storefronts, is going to take the next year . . . We’re telling the customers and members early about the change but what is coming to me that is very exciting is the substance behind the style. You have a nice logo and that’s cool but what’s the substance and substance is the simplicity, transparency and immediacy of benefits that we’re going to bring behind our patronage program, our equity model and the immediate benefits of membership that we’re going to begin to show. Enhanced member benefits through simplicity, transparency and immediacy by simplifying our equity and patronage model as well as launching immediate customer member benefits. Immediate as in every time you shop.”

Calgary Co-Op (Rendering: Royop Development Corporation)

Recently, the company announced that one of its oldest stores, the second in the chain, is being transformed into a mixed-use community in partnership with Royop Development Corporation.

The local development company purchased the North Hill Co-op property site, along 16th Avenue NE, in September and will turn the property into a brand new Calgary Co-op grocery store, to replace the current 60-year-old supermarket, residential apartments, parkade, and two new commercial retail buildings.

Construction is set to begin in early 2023, first focused on a multi-storey mixed-use building with 180 residential apartments and townhomes with resort-like amenities such as an entertainment hub, sound stage, podcast studio, sports club, and culinary kitchen. The new building is expected to be ready for residents as early as autumn 2024. Below the residences will sit a 55,000-square-foot commercial level, featuring a new full-service Calgary Co-op grocery store, bank, and retail spaces. 

Two additional commercial retail buildings will be constructed to house a Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer, Calgary Co-op cannabis shop, car wash and gas bar, and other service-oriented businesses. The existing Calgary Co-op gas bar will remain on the site with a new car wash to be added during the project. To accommodate an influx in shoppers and residents, two levels of parkade will also be added to the site.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
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 is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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