The majority of FreshCo stores are independently owned, which gives each location its own distinct character, according to the division’s GM, Rob Adams.
“They’re all independent businesses,” he says of the FreshCo franchisees. “They have their own companies, their own staff. They just have to operate according to the FreshCo standards and guidelines, so we would make sure we control the regional pricing, and the marketing and advertising, the assortment has to be approved, to make sure the brand is protected, but within those guidelines, you’ll see this franchisee here in Oakville [Ontario] do display patterns differently, the amount of seasonal he would carry might be different than a smaller store, and how he develops his own team within the store is obviously his personal goal.”
What it comes down to is establishing oneself as an integral part of community, as Rob DiFilippo, owner of the Oakville store, obviously has. “There’s a huge pride of ownership that comes into play,” notes Adams. “His picture’s on the wall as you leave. The customers get to know him; he knows a lot of the customers personally. It just helps the commitment level.”
The subsequent bond formed with shoppers is more solid than any connection to a faceless large business, Adams believes. “I think consumers appreciate small businesses more than big corporations, so the franchisees can touch the communities a little more effectively than large corporations at times, and it’s more personal,” he observes, adding that a franchisee “gets the support of the big company to buy better for him, put programs together, but how it comes to life in his community, he puts a big spin on it.”
To read the March 2011 Store of the Month story, “Northern Star,” visit www.progressivegrocer.com/inprint/article/id1578/northern-star/.