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Empire Company (TSX:EMP.A) is a Canadian company headquartered in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, with approximately $26.6 billion in annual sales and $14.6 billion in assets. Empire employs approximately 127,000 people, and the company’s food retailing segment is carried out through Sobeys, a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Sobeys has been serving the food-shopping needs of Canadians since 1907. Sobeys owns, affiliates, or franchises more than 1,500 stores in all 10 provinces, as well as more than 350 retail fuel locations. Sobeys is focused on improving the product, service, and merchandising offering within each format by expanding and renovating the company’s current store base. In addition to the company’s focus on the store network, the company is introducing an industry-leading grocery e-commerce platform to Canadians.

Diverse product offering

In addition to the distribution to corporate and franchised stores, Sobeys provides wholesale distribution of a full range of products and services to over 8,000 retail stores and independent wholesale accounts. Sobeys’s wholesale business includes a small number of wholesale outlets in the Western and Atlantic provinces to supply certain convenience store operators.

Also, Sobeys operates fuel locations in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and Western Canada under the FastFuel, Shell, and Safeway banners. Many are co-located with the company’s grocery and convenience stores. Liquor stores provide customers with solutions for wine, spirits, and beer along with great customer service and product knowledge. Sobeys operates liquor retail stores under the Sobeys Liquor, Safeway Liquor, and Thrifty Foods Liquor banners in Western Canada.

Real estate strategic initiatives

Further, Sobeys has a real estate development team to support the company’s overall growth strategy. The real estate objective is to improve the company’s market share through renovations, expansions, and new stores, while continuing to identify long-term potential opportunities. Sobeys has strong relationships with third-party landlords and developers and the company’s real estate arm.

Through these relationships, Sobeys has been successful in building the company’s retail and distribution centre footprints and should be able to continue growing the company’s footprint in line with the Sobeys’ strategic initiatives. Sobeys also owns certain retail store locations and leases stores from related parties and third-party landlords.

Focus on sustainability

The company’s goal is to reduce Sobeys’s environmental impact in the areas most material to the company’s business and enhance resilience to climate change to protect the planet for future generations, by focusing on the reduction of waste and lowering of energy and emissions. The company is focused on reducing avoidable single-use plastics, and food waste in Sobeys’s operations and supply chain.

Recently, the company has been focused on investing in Sobeys’s stores and warehouses to run the company’s operations more efficiently and lower energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The company seeks to provide sustainable and ethical product choices that serve the needs of Sobeys’s customers by focusing on sustainable sourcing and through strong partnerships with the company’s suppliers that can offer more sustainable solutions to Sobeys’s customers. The company looks to ensure the long-term viability of natural resources and the fair treatment of people and animals through Sobeys’s sustainable fair-trade sourcing practices.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Fool contributor Nikhil Kumar has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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