The indie banner is standing out with product categories that its competitors are missing.
Earlier this year, GTA grocer Organic Garage reported its 12th consecutive month of sales increases in what CEO Matt Lurie called a “transformational year” for the company…Strategy caught up with Lurie to discuss how the pandemic has affected business at the independent organic grocer, the increased focus on specialty stores and how it manages to still be the convenient, value-oriented store Canadians clamour for.
One thing Organic Garage was known for pre-pandemic was the look and feel of its stores. Now that online shopping is table stakes, how have people changed how they shop with you on the omnichannel side?
We were fortunate [as] we had signed a deal with an online delivery service just prior to COVID, finalized in January. We were one of the few independent retailers that actually had an online delivery platform. Obviously during COVID, we experienced a high level of growth. That kind of “roller coastered” along with closures and openings and the one thing the online delivery afforded us, because we only have four brick and mortar locations, was to hit new markets we previously weren’t hitting, and so it opened up the geographic area for new customers we weren’t capturing before.
How has your product assortment changed in the past year since lockdown onsets?
It hasn’t really. There are categories that benefited and others that were hurt. One thing we pivoted quickly on – it’s only a small component of our business – was the issue of the open food bar, which was a real sore spot. As soon as COVID hit and we saw what was happening, we opted to renovate that and rip them out and replace with refrigerated shelving with pre-packs. We had to close certain sections of our store that was self-service and bulk, as required by public health, but we didn’t make any dramatic changes.
But we didn’t fundamentally alter our stores. Our store design has always been a market mentality style store. We are a smaller store format and a more intimate shop. We don’t do service departments, so that alleviates a lot of concern with regard to people clustering around a service counter, we don’t experience any of that.
How do you differentiate?
We are getting a lot of increased interest in our concept. We say “we are too big for the small guy, and too small for the big guy,” and not competing in that square footage as a Metro, Sobeys, Farm Boy and all the rest.
Our store is a smaller format, but it’s still a one-stop-shop. Because of the way we retail and the brands we focus on, we can fit everything into a store that’s an A-to-B shop. That’s different from a Sobeys Urban Express, which is a scaled down version of Sobeys with certain things removed for space. That’s not what we are about. We want consistency of offer and what we carry is all identical. Fresh City Farms is not a grocery store. You cannot go in there and do an A-to-B shop. I always like to classify this. We are not a health food store. We are an organic and all-natural grocery store. You can come in and do your full shop and touch every category you need to, to get the majority of what you need. It’s rationalized in terms of the SKUs that we carry, whether downtown or in the 905, it doesn’t change what we offer. We are a standardized store template.
Christopher Lombardo. “How Organic Garage is succeeding as a one-stop, all-natural grocer.” Strategy, Brunico Communications Ltd., 15 September 2021, strategyonline.ca/2019/05/15/kraft-heinz-brings-mayochup-north/.
Question 17 (10 points)
Conduct a SWOT analysis for Organic Garage in the space provided. Use relevant information from the case study and your own general knowledge. No need to cite anything as there is no need to do any research. (10 marks total, 2 Marks per category [Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats] with 4 relevant points included per category AND 2 Marks for your overall insight of the SWOT analysis).
SWOT analysis of Organic Garage: STRENGTHS: 1. The availability of the healthiest organics and pre-packaged items of the highest quality. 2. Organic stores fulfill personal lifestyle choices by offering health-conscious items. 3. Health benefits of o…View the full answer
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