T&T Supermarket Opens First and Largest Store in Montreal with Expansion Plans for 2023 [Interview]

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T&T Supermarket is opening its first and largest store in Montreal as it continues to expand its footprint across the country with two more new stores opening in the New Year. 

The Montreal store is the company’s Easternmost location in Canada and 31st in the chain. 

The store is 70,000 square feet.

T&T Supermarket, under the Loblaw Companies umbrella,  is the largest Asian supermarket chain in Canada, operating stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. T&T Supermarket was founded in 1993 by Cindy and Jack Lee, who opened their first Vancouver supermarket at a time when Asian products were hard to come by in grocery stores. They named the store after their two daughters, Tina and Tiffany. It is now led by second generation successor and CEO Tina Lee and headquartered in Richmond, British Columbia.

“We are finally embarking on our adventure in Quebec in order to not only meet the Asian communities here but to offer a unique culinary experience to every Quebecer,” said Lee. “In my many visits to Québec, I have been excited to discover a rich culinary culture that combines creativity and diversity and I look forward to T&T contributing to Quebecers’ growing appetite for new culinary experiences and discoveries.”

“The first time I visited a T&T I was very impressed, and I told Tina, we HAVE to bring T&T to Quebec. Living in Montreal, I know people will love T&T’s unique fresh assortment. Seafood, kitchen and bakery are particularly outstanding and will appeal to a much wider audience. T&T is a growing part of Loblaw’s business and we’re excited to bring them to Quebec,” said Robert Sawyer, Loblaw’s Chief Operating Officer.

T&T Supermarket Montreal (Image: T&T Supermarket)

Lee said the Montreal store is materially bigger than the size of the chain’s average store at about 40,000 square feet.

The store is located in the borough of Saint-Lauren tat 300 Sainte-Croix Ave, near the intersection of Highways 15 and 40, and it will be able to serve all residents of the Greater Montreal area.

The Montreal store offers:

  • Over 20,000 products including a wide variety of fresh produce, premium fruits and gifts, live seafood, and trendy snacks;
  • Quality fresh food and products prepared and cooked in-store or sourced from across Asia;
  • Authentic Asian pastries, custom cakes, sushi bar, self-serve hot food station, barbeque station, and rare find street foods such as Asian-style crepes and pork belly buns;
  • A variety of imported beers and wines from different parts of Asia, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beers sold exclusively at T&T. It’s the first and only T&T in the country to sell alcohol;
  • T&T’s full line of private label products, up to 400 items, including Asian comfort foods such as scallion pancakes and dumplings, pantry stables such as sauces and noodles, healthy snacks and kitchen accessories;
  • Health and beauty products and cosmetics that are only found in Asia and are known for their effectiveness.
T&T Supermarket Montreal (Image: T&T Supermarket)

On December 1, the company opened a new location in Sage Hill in Calgary.

It plans to open new locations at the CF Fairview Mall in Toronto and in Coquitlam in the New Year. Lee said Fairview is expected to open in a few months with Coquitlam opening in the first quarter of 2023. She said more locations are in the pipeline for the brand.

“We actually are one of the rare retailers where we can flex our store space. We’re fairly agile when it comes to the box we’re looking for. We can go as small as 30,000 square feet and as large as 70,000 square feet. So very flexible that way,” said Lee.

“Of course, we appeal to a core demographic of East Asians and so we look for a demographic pulse and certainly a growing community. We like that as well.”

CEO Tina Lee at T&T Supermarket Montreal’s Grand Opening (Image: T&T Supermarket)

Lee said the company recognizes there is a lot of pent-up demand in the Montreal market for what it offers.

“We know that customers drive three hours to their closest T&T which is in Ottawa. So often we’ll see Quebec license plates in our parking lot,” she said. 

“Montreal’s a large city and to have our first store in Montreal, we wanted to make sure that we could service as many people as we could. It’s on Montreal Island which is quite central to pull from all the boroughs around the city of Montreal.

“The other thing is, which I’m quite excited about, Montreal is a very food loving culture. We have such amazing ingredients and fresh selection and we execute really well in the in-store bakery and kitchen. All of that is going to have a wider appeal to Montrealers who really celebrate food and enjoy food, dare I say more than the rest of the country. So we built a bigger store with that in mind and we expect to have a regional draw.”

T&T Supermarket Montreal (Image: T&T Supermarket)

For example, Lee said the company made a huge investment in seafood for the Montreal store with “enough water to fill your backyard swimming pool.” There’s also a huge investment in its in-store bakery and kitchen. 

As for future stores, Lee said the company will see how things go with the launch of the  Montreal store and Atlantic Canada is a possibility. 

“That would be pretty amazing. I think one day I’d like to be there,” said Lee. 

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