Thrifty Foods buys two liquor stores on Vancouver Island

No liquor stores purchased in Lower Mainland 

The Metro Liquor store at Tuscany Village on McKenzie Avenue is being rebranded as Thrifty Foods Liquor | Photo: Darren Stone, Times Colonist

Thrifty Foods is officially in the liquor business in British Columbia.

The Victoria-based subsidiary of Sobeys has finalized a deal to buy two Metro Liquor locations in Saanich on Vancouver Island: one at Tuscany Village and University Heights Shopping Centre.

The liquor store at University Heights, beside Save on Foods, transferred to Thrifty Foods last week, while the Tuscany Village location officially transferred at midnight April 12.

“Liquor has been one of our banners in the west, particularly Alberta, for a number of years now, but with changing laws in other provinces we have been able to open up a few stores,” said Keri Scobie, Sobeys communications manager for Western Canada.

The stores will be branded as Thrifty Foods Liquor.

She noted customers may notice some changes over time as the company uses some of its experience in markets in Alberta and Saskatchewan to guide its choices.

“In terms of offering and the expertise we have with employees, we are looking to build that out in our stores across the network,” she said.

Scobie said Sobeys bought only the two locations, and not any of Metro Liquor’s other stores. B.C.-based Metro Liquor has locations in Brentwood Bay, Campbell River and in Kelowna.

Metro Liquor did not respond to requests for comment April 12.

Scobie left the door open to Thrifty Foods adding to its liquor stores. “What I will say is as customers get familiar with us in the market under the Thrifty Foods Liquor banner, if there’s demand and the right opportunity for us, then those are things we are looking to explore,” she said.

She said buying the two Metro Liquor stores, which are a block apart, was all about opportunity and what the market would support and not a competitive move against Save on Foods at University Heights. “We look at opportunities and whether there is customer demand ... with the two locations it made sense to acquire both,” she said.

Thrifty Foods has also obtained a liquor licence, and its Cloverdale location at 3475 Quadra St. has been identified as a possible future site of a liquor outlet. It's the only Thrifty Foods location that meets the province’s criteria for an outlet at a grocery store.

Scobie said at this point they have not made any plans to establish a store there.

“Everything remains as is with that location,” she said.

In February, Overwaitea, parent company of Save on Foods, also made a move toward liquor sales in Victoria by buying the liquor licence of the B.C. Wine Guys VQA Wine Store on Cadboro Bay Road.

Overwaitea spokeswoman Julie Dickson Olmstead said the company intends to use that licence at some point to offer wine in the aisle at one of its Vancouver Island grocery stores.

Times Colonist