T&T Supermarket to open second Coquitlam store, and others across Canada

Richmond-based, Asian-themed grocer aims to have 33 locations by end of 2022

T&T Supermarket launched at Metropolis at Metrotown in 1993 and was sold to Loblaw Cos. Ltd. in 2009 | Google Street View

T&T Supermarket plans to open its second Coquitlam location, at 1085 Woolridge Street – in a strip mall near the intersection of Lougheed Highway and King Edward Street – by the end of 2022.

This is in addition to also opening by the end of the year new stores in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, leaving the Richmond-based subsidiary of Loblaw Cos Ltd. (TSX:L) with 33 locations across B.C., Alberta, Ontario, and newly Quebec.

The company's existing Coquitlam location is at Coquitlam Centre.

Founder Cindy Lee and her team opened T&T Supermarket's first store at Burnaby's Metropolis at Metrotown in 1993, and by 2009 had expanded the company to more than $500 million in annual revenue from 17 stores, including eight in Metro Vancouver, two in Calgary, two in Edmonton and five in Toronto. 

That is when Loblaw bought T&T Supermarket for $225 million, including $191 million in cash and the rest in preferred shares. 

Loblaw last month reported that it generated $53.17 billion in revenue in the year ended January 1, and it did not break out sales for its T&T Supermarket division. 

Lee's daughter Tina Lee took over as T&T Supermarket's CEO in 2014. 

She said in a release that part of her grocery chain's success story is that it has become much more than just a place where customers buy food.

"T&T stores have increasingly become a community gathering place, where customers go to get out of the house, enjoy the shopping experience, and bump into old friends," said Lee.

Retail Insider Media owner and consultant Craig Patterson told BIV that T&T's strategy of locating its stores mostly in large Canadian cities and suburbs is smart.

"Consumers in cities are increasingly embracing stores such as T&T, and it doesn't matter what their background is," he said.

"When you look at Canadian cities, generally there's diversity, and a consumer that's a bit more open minded to certain things [such as traditionally Asian foods,]" he said.

As is increasingly the norm with grocers, T&T Supermarket offers online ordering for home delivery and pick-up, either through its website or its app. 

While the company's website and store signage calls the venture T&T Supermarket, corporate officials call it T&T Supermarkets in press releases.

The company dubs itself as the largest Asian supermarket chain in Canada. Some competing companies that specialize in traditionally Asian foods include H Mart and Sungiven Foods.