Sobeys goes live with Voilà delivery in Alberta

On-demand service begins through Ocado-automated fulfillment center in Calgary area.
Sobeys Empire-Voila delivery launch-Alberta
The kickoff of Voilà delivery in Calgary, Edmonton and surrounding Alberta communities adds to service already under way in Ontario and Quebec. / Photo courtesy of Empire

Sobeys Inc. parent Empire Co. Ltd. has expanded its Voilà delivery service to Western Canada.

The Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based food and drug retailer on Monday launched Voilà home delivery to customers in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, and surrounding areas. Nearly 20,000 products are now available for on-demand delivery, in one-hour time windows, from Safeway, Sobeys, Chalo! FreshCo and other stores. Shoppers order online at or via the Voilà mobile app.

Voilà service is powered by Empire’s Ocado-automated customer fulfillment center (CFC) in Rocky View County, Alberta, which wraps around Calgary to the west, north and east. The 290,000-square-foot, high-tech CFC uses United Kingdom-based Ocado Group’s vertical integration, machine learning and robotics to assemble online grocery orders, when then are delivered to customers by Voilà associates in refrigerated vehicles.

Other Calgary and Edmonton communities now live with Voilà delivery include Airdrie, Beaumont, Camrose, Cochrane, Chestermere, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, High River, Leduc, Morinville, Okotoks, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, St. Albert, Stony Plain, Strathmore and Wetaskiwin, Empire reported.

“Delivering directly from our dedicated facility allows us to provide customers with better product freshness and quality and more reliable delivery. At Voilà, we show up on time with everything our customers ordered,” Sarah Joyce, senior vice president of e-commerce at Empire, said in a statement.

Sobeys Empire-Calgary Ocado CFC-robots

Along with the Calgary-area Ocado-automated fulfillment center (above), Empire has Ocado-driven facilities in Toronto and Montreal. / Photo courtesy of Empire

Empire noted that the Voilà service has “no hidden markups” on products, and customers pay a flat delivery fee or can have that waived if they buy a Delivery Pass and meet minimum order requirements. Alberta customers, too, will be able to choose between home delivery and curbside pickup, with the latter available at 16 of the retailer’s 141 stores in the region. According to Empire, the existing Voilà service in Ontario and Quebec has attained 99% order accuracy and 95% on-time deliveries.

“Customers love Voilà because of our unparalleled home-delivery service. We are excited to bring that same service to Albertans,” Joyce added.

Empire has continued to build out its network of four Ocado-powered CFCs across Canada to support the growth of Voilà. The first CFC in Toronto started deliveries in June 2020, and the second CFC in Montreal kicked off deliveries in March 2022 under a phased transition of customers to Voilà par IGA from Previously, Empire had reported that the third CFC in Calgary was slated to begin deliveries in early fiscal 2024. The fourth CFC, to be situated in Vancouver, British Columbia, is expected to initiate deliveries in calendar 2025.

In addition, as part of integration of Longo’s, acquired in May 2021, Empire plans to begin incorporating the Ontario grocer’s Grocery Gateway e-commerce service into Voilà in July.

“We said from the start that, at the appropriate time, we could drive efficiencies by integrating Grocery Gateway into Voilà. But in addition to these efficiencies, Grocery Gateway and Voilà customers will both benefit by gaining access to each other’s assortment,” Empire President and CEO Michael Medline told analysts in March during a conference call on third-quarter results. “Both businesses are now at the right place to begin this integration. Similar to the transition, Grocery Gateway customers will transition to Voilà over a six-week period, offering Longo’s as a significant shop-in-shop on the Voilà platform.” (Call transcript provided by AlphaSense.)



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