Needs Convenience Continues to Grow in Atlantic Canada
By Angela Altass
If you live in, or are traveling through, Atlantic Canada, chances are you have come across a Needs convenience store along the way.
The Needs convenience store banner is well recognized throughout Atlantic Canada. Operating from over 150 locations, Needs was founded in 1985 when a group of Green Gables convenience stores were acquired by Sobeys Inc.
In a franchised convenience format, Needs focuses on providing superior service, high demand convenience items and preferred hours of operation, says Craig Pardy, director of Atlantic operations, Sobeys Inc. Approximately 30 of the Needs locations supported with fuel retail come under the Sobeys-owned banner Fast Fuel.
“We have a robust franchisee network who we are proud to work with to serve our customers across the Atlantic region,” says Pardy. “This network also includes Shell as the wholesaler of fuel in Atlantic Canada as well as other national brand fuel marketers under a supply/lease agreement. Needs continues to look for markets that are under-supported for fuel and convenience offerings where we can provide customers with our superior service and product offering.”
Needs convenience stores and gas stations offer a wide selection of grocery, snacks, frozen novelty, frozen food, produce, beverages, lottery and services, such as ATMs and gift cards.
Like other essential services, the Needs network has adjusted operations throughout the pandemic to ensure stores remained safe and stocked, demonstrating resiliency and a strong customer focus. “Beyond keeping our stores safe, we are so proud of how our franchise network also supported meaningful community initiatives this past year,” says Pardy. “From being one of the first convenience banners to fully eliminate single-use plastic checkout bags, to exceeding fundraising goals on check stand campaigns, raising much needed funds for local Special Olympics chapters, food banks, and mental health programing at children’s hospitals, our franchisees continue to demonstrate an unrelenting support for their communities.”
To date, 90 per cent of the Needs locations have gone through a renovation over the last three years to provide brighter, more current décor with enhanced merchandising and display racking to make sites more shopper friendly, says Pardy.
“Needs are positioned in markets to act as a fill in option for customers who don’t have the time or ability to shop big at full-serve retail banners,” says Pardy. “Needs also carries a wide assortment of Sobeys own brand items. All Needs locations and new Needs opportunities are reviewed for consideration of additional attractive assets on site. This could include anything from the addition of a carwash, a quick serve restaurant, an express liquor store, RV dumping stations and diesel pumps at the edge of the property to support larger vehicles.”
Fast Fuel and Shell locations are strategically positioned throughout Atlantic Canada to support the Sobeys retail brand through fuel for food and food for fuel promotions.
“Under the Fast Fuel brand, customers earn a 3.5 cent per litre coupon they can use exclusively at Sobeys, Foodland and participating Co-op locations,” says Pardy. “Sobeys retail run food for fuel promotions provide customers with cents per litre discounts on fuel purchases based on thresholds of spending at the grocery store.”
The future looks bright for Needs, says Pardy, and Atlantic Canada can anticipate additional Needs locations to be added as the company continues to look at expanding its’ convenience presence.
“Needs will continue to grow through innovation of offerings and services within the Atlantic network, supported with key messaging through social media, print media and digital media that will have the greatest reach to its targeted customer base,” he states. “Needs has opened 18 locations in the last three years and will continue to be at the forefront in finding new locations moving forward. Technology will support the desire to create leading edge service and promotional offerings and payment options and enhance customer experience with targeted loyalty offerings.”