Sobeys

Our History

A proudly Canadian business, here’s how Sobeys Inc. has grown from a small meat delivery business in Stellarton, Nova Scotia to more than 1,500 stores across the country.

1800s

William Sobey, a member of Britain’s Royal engineers is stationed in Halifax where he meets and marries Janet MacIntosh of Pictou County in 1862.

1876

After returning to England, the Sobeys come back to Nova Scotia to stay — along with their seven-year-old son, John William (J.W.).

1907

After moving to Stellarton, Nova Scotia, J.W. starts a meat delivery business. With a horse-drawn cart, he purchases and collects livestock from local farmers for resale.

1924

A 16 year-old Frank H. Sobey persuades his father (J.W.) to expand the family business from meat and a few local vegetables to a full line of groceries.

1939

After 15 years, the Sobeys’ chain of stores has begun. There are now six stores in Pictou County and the surrounding counties.

1947

Eager to join the latest revolution in food distribution, Frank Sobey opens the first modern Sobeys supermarket in Atlantic Canada.

1950s & 60s

As Sobeys continues to expand through Atlantic Canada, Frank’s three sons – Bill, David and Donald – become active in the company.

1971

Frank’s sons take over the management of the company with Bill as president, David as executive vice president and Donald heading up the growing investment company, Empire Inc.

1987

For the first time, Sobeys achieves sales of over $1 billion. This same year, Sobeys opens its first store outside of Atlantic Canada in Guelph, Ontario.

1998

Sobeys triples its size and becomes a national company when it acquires The Oshawa Group – a Toronto-based supplier to Canada’s IGA stores.

2005

With the introduction of the exclusive Compliments private label offering, Sobeys inspires Canadians with the best combination of quality, price and exceptional food experience. Today we have a line of almost 5,000 Compliments private label products.

2006

To emphasize Sobeys commitment to food and customer service, the slogan “Just add Sobeys” is introduced.

2007

Happy 100th birthday Sobeys! It’s a year of new milestones for Sobeys. The company marks its 100th anniversary and in June is taken private by majority shareholder Empire Company Limited.

In September, Sobeys expands its presence in British Columbia through the acquisition of Thrifty Foods.

2008

Sobeys makes grocery shopping even more rewarding for customers, with the launch of the Club Sobeys and Club Sobeys MasterCard in its Sobeys banner stores in Ontario and Western Canada.

2009

Sobeys opens a new distribution centre in Vaughan, Ontario, the first in Canada to use a fully automated warehouse and picking technology.

2010

Sobeys redefines discount food retailing with the launch of the FreshCo discount food banner in Ontario.

2012

Sobeys grows its retail gas operations in Québec and Atlantic Canada with the purchase of Shell retail gas locations.

2013

With a mission to encourage, inspire and empower Canadians to explore the world of better food, Sobeys announces a new brand positioning, Sobeys Better Food for All, and partnership with chef and food campaigner Jamie Oliver.

And in November, Sobeys becomes a leading grocer in Western Canada and #1 in the Alberta market through the acquisition of Canada Safeway. The acquired assets include full-service grocery retail locations across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northern Ontario; as well as fuel locations; in-store pharmacies; manufacturing facilities; liquor stores and distribution/warehouse facilities.

2014

Sobeys expands the AIR MILES Reward Program to Sobeys, IGA, Thrifty Foods and Sobeys Liquor stores in Western Canada.

2015

Sobeys reshapes discount food retailing in Brampton, Ontario by introducing a unique location: Chalo! FreshCo, a one-stop shopping experience catered towards South Asian customers.

Today

Sobeys Inc. is a $24.6 billion company with more than 1,500 corporate and franchise stores across the country, with a steadfast commitment to helping Canadians Eat Better, Feel Better and Do Better.