• James Parry

IGA Poirier stores in Hudson and St. Lazare sold to Sobeys Inc.


PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Beneath a treasured photo of his parents and surrounded by family photos and good souvenirs of his company founded 66 years ago, Michel Poirer was in his IGA Hudson office as usual June 22 catching up on some paperwork.

Following months of rumours and wild speculation, it was confirmed this week that Michel Poirier has sold both his Hudson and St. Lazare landmark stores and is retiring from the food retailing business, marking the end of an era for his company founded by his father, Raymond, 66 years ago.

The new owner is Sobeys Inc., Canada's second largest food retailer, prior to sale to a new franchisee in the coming weeks or months.

Stressing that both stores will continue operating with business as usual and with the same management and staff - albeit under new ownership – Poirier, who continues to own both buildings, told Your Local Journal in an exclusive interview June 22, “Obviously, it is a very emotional time for me and I have so many mixed feelings. But it is something that I have been thinking about for some time now.”

Said Poirier, a keen golfer and who is just one year older than his company, “There comes a time in life when one has to realize that one is playing on the back nine. This really struck me when my sister, Louise, passed away last year. And when my dear friend, Jacques Demers, suffered a stroke earlier this year. I mean, one can live a long life, but it caused me to reflect on how much quality time remains for any of us as we are certainly not getting any younger.”

Added Poirier, “I had thought of giving it another year but the decision would not have been any easier then. And who can really foresee what can happen tomorrow? There is really no ideal timing in major decisions such as these.

“As a second-generation family business we have had a good run and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks, in no small part, to the loyal support of our customers, staff, and suppliers, as well as my immediate family, over the years. We have learned from all of them and they have made us constantly evolve and get better in light of changing trends in the food retailing business.”

The negotiation and sales transaction with Sobeys was both very positive and smooth, stressed Poirier. “They told me they were very impressed with how our stores were run with a true community spirit, with our management, and with our staff of about 300, depending on the season, being local people with family ties here going back decades.

“And they said that, because of this and while they are the owners until a new franchisee is found, they didn't see any reason whatsoever to make changes in either Hudson or St. Lazare. All current positions, status, salaries, and terms of employment are being honoured and I wouldn't have had it any other way.”

As for Poirier's future plans? Spending more quality time with his wife, Julie, and family. As well as more time on the golf course, enjoying his other passions - namely fishing, and travelling. But certainly not until the fall. Laughed Poirier, “Summer here in Hudson and St. Lazare is so beautiful. Why go anywhere else?”

Looking around his office, filled with personal mementos, fishing and hockey trophies, and both family and IGA Poirier photographs and memorabilia, Poirier concluded the interview with the following:

“Nothing lasts forever. I'm fortunate to still be in good health. And I realize that now is the time to just walk away knowing that we have done our best while leaving the company in good hands and passing on the torch to someone else.”

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