Loblaw Cos., Canada’s largest food and drug retailer, is extending its footprint into the United States with plans to open an Asian grocery store in Bellevue, Washington, under its T&T Supermarkets banner.
Richmond, British Columbia-based T&T Supermarkets said Thursday that the 76,000-square-foot store, to be located in The Marketplace at Factoria shopping center, is slated to open in summer 2024. T&T noted that the store will be the state’s largest Asian supermarket and serve as a flagship location for the chain, which currently operates 33 stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
“We know the love for T&T transcends borders. It’s not unusual to see U.S. license plates in the parking lots of our British Columbia stores, with hundreds of customers regularly making the drive for our food,” T&T Supermarkets CEO Tina Lee said in a statement. “After 30 successful years in Canada, we couldn’t be more excited to bring our unique offering closer to home for customers in the United States.”
Plans also call for T&T to set up a regional office in greater Los Angeles. The new Bellevue store will create more than 300 jobs, and the retailer said it has begun hiring for office positions such as buyers and category managers, and plans to hold its first job fair this summer for supervisor and higher positions.
Lee told The Globe & Mail that, for now, T&T aims to focus on establishing its first U.S. location, but the Bellevue store “leaves the door open to more.” She said T&T also needs to build a new network of suppliers and vendors, and the L.A. area includes the nation’s largest port and is an Asian food trade hub, The Globe & Mail reported.
T&T supermarkets offer customers a wide assortment of Asian products, including a range of fresh produce, meat, seafood, grocery items, daily baked breads and ready-to-eat meals. The chain also provides online grocery service for home delivery and store pickup via tntsupermarket.com and the T&T mobile app.
“We are thrilled to have T&T Supermarkets in Bellevue. This store will add to our rich food scene and the vibrant culture of our city,” Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson commented. “T&T will employ hundreds of talented local workers, and I know the store will be welcomed and enjoyed by our community and the region beyond.”
Asian cuisine at the Bellevue store will include a sushi counter, hot food bar and noodle station, as well as an in-store kitchen and a bakery for fresh-made delicacies like steam buns and pork belly bao, plus Asian pastries and cakes. The store will carry more than 300 T&T private-label products, including customer favorites such as green onion pancake, Korean kalbi marinade, pork dumplings and seaweed snacks.
“I used to live in Toronto, and I moved to Seattle for work 10 years ago. Honestly, one of the things I miss the most from home was T&T,” Charles Chang, a T&T customer, said in a statement to the retailer. “We just don’t have anything like it here. T&T coming to town is going to be a huge game-changer for the food scene.”
T&T was acquired by Loblaw in 2009. Most recently, the Asian grocer opened a 37,000-square-foot store in Coquitlam, British Columbia, on June 1 and a 36,000-square-foot store at CF Fairview Mall in Toronto on May 18. In December, T&T opened its first Quebec location, a nearly 70,000-square-foot store (occupying a former Loblaw supermarket space) in the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent, as well as a 45,000-square-foot store in the Sage Hill neighborhood of Calgary, Alberta.
Another new T&T supermarket also is due to open in summer 2024, a 39,000-square-foot store in London, Ontario. When announcing the project in April, T&T said the London location will be in a strip mall now under renovation to accommodate the expanded grocery store.
The Marketplace at Factoria, the site of the upcoming Bellevue T&T, also currently includes an Amazon Fresh grocery store—the first location of retail giant Amazon’s supermarket concept, opened in June 2021—as well as a Target store. Also nearby are a Jing Jing Asian Market and a Kroger Co. QFC supermarket.
“T&T’s anchor tenancy at Marketplace at Factoria begins an exciting chapter for the property, which includes new residential, retail and dining experiences,” according to Carmen Decker, president of Kimco Realty’s Western region. “We search the globe for best-in-class retailers to elevate the shopping experience within our centers and are excited to welcome such an iconic Canadian brand to our retail collection.”
Overall, Loblaw’s retail network encompasses 2,442 stores, including 548 corporate-owned supermarkets, 551 franchised grocery stores and 1,343 Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix associate-owned drugstores across Canada. The company’s retail banners include Loblaws, Zehrs, Independent, Valu-Mart, Provigo, Atlantic Superstore, Fortinos T&T Supermarkets, Wholesale Club, Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills, Maxi and Extra Foods. The retailer also offers online grocery services until the PC Express banner and provides the President’s Choice (grocery), no name (food and household products) and Life Brand (health and wellness) private labels; PC Financial services; Joe Fresh fashion and apparel brand; and the PC Optimum loyalty program.
Decades ago, Loblaw had U.S. grocery retail operations under the names Loblaw Groceterias and National Tea. The company also had previously sold its President’s Choice own brand at various U.S. supermarkets, and its Joe Fresh fashion brand is currently sold in the U.S., including at selected Hy-Vee supermarkets.