Changes are in the works at the helm of Thrifty Foods.
After 42 years in the grocery industry, General Manager Jim Dores will be retiring in July, and by all accounts, he’ll miss running the Island-born brand.
“Grocery shopping is such a mundane, boring task and to see somebody happy with what they’re spending their money on, that makes me happy. Thrifty Foods was a good fit because that’s their specialty,” Dores said from the Thrifty Foods Saanichton headquarters.
The Hamilton, Ont. native got his start in groceries in high school, when he got a job at a local grocer putting out a produce rack each morning and taking it down again after class.
“I wanted to join the police force, and in those days you had to be 165 pounds to get into cadets. So I joined a company called Oshawa Group which had Food City, and they immediately put me on night shifts. You never put on any weight there,” Dores said, laughing.
Sobeys purchased Thrifty Foods in 2007 from Alex Campbell for $260 million. Dores joined the Thrifty Foods team in late-2010, and he maintains the company culture is like nothing he’s ever experienced.
“I think it’s legacy,” Dores said. “I believe it came from Alex Campbell’s vision and the way he liked to do business and it’s so gratifying to see that his legacy has lived on.”
The grocery business is changing, Dores admitted, and Thrifty Foods will be facing some tough competitors in the next few years on the Island. Earlier this year, U.S.-based giant Whole Foods announced it will be settling into Uptown Centre by 2016, and speculation continues about the development of a Loblaws-owned empty lot on Douglas Street.
“We have big box, conventional grocery, discount stores, drug stores selling groceries and everybody’s trying to do it a little bit differently but ultimately it’s still just groceries,” Dores said. “Thrifty Foods will have to get even better at what we do to survive in the market, and the guys here know that as well. Ultimately, it’s going to be a win for the customer.”
Dores will be replaced by Lorne MacLean, who comes from Cape Breton, N.B. and has worked his way up with Sobeys over the past 35 years.
“Lorne will be a great fit for Thrifty Foods. He’s a seasoned veteran and he know the business, and he’s just thrilled about moving to Vancouver Island, from one Island to another,” said Dores, who plans to check off bucket-list items that include driving through the Rockies and exploring more of B.C. upon retirement.
“This job has been a wonderful experience and the highlight of my career. I’m just so grateful to the employees of Thrifty Foods and the loyalty of the customers who recognize Thrifty Foods for what it is in this market,” Dores said.
There are currently 19 Thrifty Foods locations on Vancouver Island, one on Saltspring and six on the Lower Mainland.