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TORONTO - Canada's second-largest supermarket chain says it's ready and willing to expand through acquisitions, including buying any Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. stores that come on the market, The Toronto Star reports.
Sobeys Inc. is "willing, capable and motivated" and has the purchasing power to finance more aggressive growth through acquisitions, chief executive Bill McEwan told an analysts' conference in Toronto this week.
Analysts said A&P's stores in Ontario would be a good fit for Sobeys, who is outranked by the Loblaws supermarket chain in that region.
Loblaw Cos. Ltd. president John Lederer, who also addressed the conference, said his firm is continuing to focus on its strategy of building larger and more diversified stores on land owned by the company, rather than investing in leased properties like its competitors.
"Had we not had our own real estate, we would never have been able to expand into the pharmacy business, the photo business and the gas business," Lederer said. "Owning our own real estate gives us tremendous flexibility."
Sobeys operates the Sobeys, IGA, Price Chopper and Foodland banners.
Other potential bidders for A&P include Quebec-based Metro Inc. Spokesperson Gilles Roberges would say only that Metro is interested in raising its presence in Ontario.