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Behind most IGA supermarkets lies a family story.

IGA: More than 130 years of history

For generations, the job of running major Quebec grocery stores has passed from father to son and mother to daughter. The key to their success? Strength in numbers.

IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance) is the largest group of independent grocers in Canada. In Quebec its presence dates to 1953, but it all started in 1873 with the opening of a fruit and vegetable store on Rue St-Paul in Montreal.

The Hudon & Orsali era

In 1873, Firmin Hudon opened the doors to his first grocery store. A year later he joined forces with Alexandre Orsali, a grocery wholesaler and wine and liquor importer.

On June 1, 1953, IGA Chicago granted the Hudon & Orsali company exclusive rights to the IGA banner for several Quebec regions. This happened at a time when the arrival of major grocery chains on the scene was creating a need for independent grocers to join forces and consolidate their buying and merchandising power. IGA became the only voluntary grocer’s collective and by November of the same year, more than 50 grocers were united under the IGA banner.

Frank Juno’s Shop & Save

In August 1955, Frank Juno purchased Hudon & Orsali and became company president. He launched Shop & Save Limited, a retail division of Hudon & Orsali, in 1957 and proceeded to operate 60 supermarkets under the IGA Shop & Save banner.

The Hudon & Orsali (Shop & Save) distribution centre was inaugurated in 1967 in an industrial park on Boulevard Albert-Hudon, named to honour the founding family, in Montreal-Nord.

Oshawa Wholesale Limited

In 1969 Oshawa Wholesale Limited purchased Hudon & Orsali and became the Oshawa Group.

A tough period for independent grocers
In the 70s, price wars started by major grocery chains led independent grocers to an impasse. Hudon & Orsali responded by opening the first large-surface food stores, where the top priority was providing highly professional service.

The Hudon et Deaudelin Ltée era

On May 24, 1974, Hudon & Orsali purchased E. Deaudelin, a neighbouring business. The following year, Oshawa Group decided to change the company name from Hudon & Orsali to Hudon et Deaudelin Ltée, an acknowledgement of the company’s Quebec origins.

Winds of change

In 1975, the need to streamline retail operations became increasingly apparent. A decision was made at Hudon et Deaudelin to merge the IGA and Boniprix banners. Jean-Guy Deaudelin was named president and general manager in 1977.

That same year the company relaunched the IGA group, established the new IGA BONIPRIX banner, and introduced the new IGA BONIPRIX logo — red and white on a blue background.

The IGA BONIPRIX road to success

To increase their market share and maintain a competitive edge, IGA BONIPRIX introduced their “Supervente” program and introduced a flyer with colour photos that was an instant success. IGA’s new strategy was bearing fruit: independent grocers were now able to compete with the major grocery chains.

In 1978, the first IGA advisory committee was created to develop harmonious relations among their grocers. A few months later, the new Boni-Soir banner was introduced along with the Boni-Soir distribution centre, which would supply corner stores and neighbourhood grocery stores.

Former Boni-Soir president Pierre Croteau was named president and general manager of Hudon et Deaudelin Ltée in January 1981. Now more than ever, the company focused on retail sales growth and promoting friendly relations between grocers and wholesalers. This remodelled philosophy set IGA on the road to success.

In 1982, following the bankruptcy of the Fédération des Magasins Coop, Hudon et Deaudelin offered food coops the opportunity to become full-fledged members of the IGA BONIPRIX banner while maintaining their cooperative identity at the same time.

They inaugurated the Quebec City division in 1989 by establishing the IGA BONIPRIX banner in the region and erecting a new distribution centre, and they also purchased Saint-Jérôme wholesaler NOVAGRO that same year.

IGA’s new image

The late 80s marked a new identity for IGA. The BONIPRIX name was retired and replaced by a modernized IGA logo, the same one we know today, symbolizing a network focused on the future.

In 1988, Steinberg sold off its Quebec assets to competing companies, including IGA. Four years later, the dismantling of the Steinberg network provided a great boost for Hudon et Deaudelin, which acquired twenty-three franchised stores in the greater Montreal area, seven independent affiliated grocers, four distribution centres in four different regions of Quebec (Anjou, Gaspé, Magdalen Islands, and Rimouski) and seven Aligro cash and carry outlets. It was a period of rapid expansion for IGA.

Sobeys makes a grand entrance

Sobeys, a chain from Nova Scotia, purchased the Oshawa Group and, consequently, the ex-wholesaler Hudon et Daudelin. Despite this important acquisition, the Quebec wholesaler’s position did not waiver: in Quebec, the IGA banner was there to stay.

Early in the new millennium, the IGA extra banner first saw the light of day. This sister-banner to IGA provides customers with excellent product variety and unparalleled customer service in a boutique environment, and IGA extra supermarkets are bigger than IGA stores. With the arrival of the IGA extra banner in Quebec, Sobeys has set a new standard for the supermarket customer experience.

Sobeys Inc. has become one of Canada's two national grocery retail and distribution companies.