A Quebec-based grocery chain specializing in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food is bringing its first Southwestern Ontario store to London.
Adonis Market, now owned by grocery giant Metro Inc., plans a 45,000-sq. ft. store in the city's south end, with construction expected to begin next year and the supermarket to open in the summer of 2025.
Popular in other markets, especially among Lebanese and Greek-Canadian communities, the company's entry into London gives Metro a presence in the city's growing ethnic grocery sector, where giant rival Loblaw is building a foothold in the Asian food business through its T&T Supermarket Inc. chain that's expanding into London with a nearly 40,000-sq. ft store expected to open next summer.
T&T is the nation's largest Asian grocery retailer and its London store, at Oxford Street and Wonderland Road, will be the city's largest Asian food store.
Montreal-based Adonis, which operates in Quebec and Ontario, is promising a different food-shopping experience in London.
“Adonis offers a unique and authentic experience to customers looking for international products, by offering a wide range of fresh and quality Mediterranean products and distinctive services and we are thrilled to be joining the London community,” said Eric Provost, the company's vice president and general manager.
London has seen a burst of new ethnic grocery stores in recent years, the largest ones moving into anchor locations at malls and others springing up from scratch in smaller stand-alone operations.
Many of the stores offer food staples and specialties difficult to find at traditional food stores and are a favourite among established and newcomer ethnic communities in London, which has been one of Canada's fastest-growing cities in recent years with an influx of new residents from the Toronto area and immigration from abroad.
Ali Tahini, who knows a thing or two about Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food as the co-founder of the Tahini's restaurant chain, said he's excited about Adonis coming to London.
"It's great," said Tahini, who's of Egyptian heritage. “There's a lot of stuff that you can only find at Middle Eastern stores.”
Fast-growing cities like London are a natural opportunity for specialty grocers like Adonis, offering foods not available at regular chains, said David Soberman, a marketing professor at the University of Toronto and an expert in the grocery industry.
“Asian stores can do the same thing. You go into a regular Metro or regular Sobeys, you're not going to get the same selection of products," he said Thursday.
Some customers are also drawn to smaller chains because they're not the industry giants and shopping there makes them feel better, said Soberman, adding they likely don't know the big chains own many such stores.
“A lot of these stores, people think they're actually going to an independent supermarket but they're not. And most of these stores were originally owned by families, but they're not (any longer),” he said.
For big chains that operate such specialty stores, it's a way to increase market share, Soberman said.
He said "Metro wins" by rolling out an Adonis, giving it "a format that is really great if you have a growing community, a Middle Eastern community, in a community like London."
Established in Quebec in 1976 by brothers Elie and Jamil Cheaib and their friend Georges Ghrayeb, who originally came from Lebanon, Adonis began moving into the Ontario market in 2013, two years after forging a partnership with Metro.
Metro, which bought out A&P Canada in 2005 and took over its stores, including in London, bought the Adonis Market chain in 2017.
The company's London store will be built in the Westwood Power Centre, owned by Southside Group on Wonderland Road South.
“Southside is excited to welcome Adonis to our shopping centre, as the Adonis product offering is very much needed in London. We’re positive that they will be dearly loved by everyone," said Vito Frijia, Southside's president.
Adonis now has 15 locations in Quebec and Ontario.
Brian Williams, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press