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This article was published 26/10/2010 (3653 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A grocery store battle is brewing for Winnipeg's coffee drinkers.
Tim Hortons, Canada's iconic coffee shop, has signed a partnership with Canada Safeway to open coffee counters in four of its stores across Western Canada, including one in Winnipeg.
Betty Kellsey, Safeway's Calgary-based public affairs manager, said construction of the kiosk in the Kildare store in Transcona is still a week or two away, but it is scheduled to open in December.
The Tim Hortons outlet will be about eight metres wide and will offer a full complement of pastries, breakfast sandwiches, bagels and pastries as well as hot and cold beverages. It will not, however, offer soup and sandwiches to compete with Safeway's own lunch counter menus.
This isn't Safeway's first association with a coffee giant. The grocery store chain has had a relationship with Starbucks Coffee Co. for about five years and features its counters in 166 of its stores from Manitoba to British Columbia.
"We remain very committed to Starbucks. We don't have an exclusivity deal with anybody. Our coffee offering is determined on a store-by-store basis. We felt that by offering our customers an alternative coffee offering, it could be a very successful partnership as well," she said.
"Starbucks sometimes has multiple locations within the same shopping centre. With Tim's, we're trying to create a balanced and unique offering for our customers."
Despite the global strength of Starbucks, Safeway is aligning itself with the dominant coffee brand in Canada, according to Glenn Feltham, dean of the I.H. Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba.
"When one looks at the fact that Safeway is appealing to a broad market segment, it may make sense for them to ultimately end up with Tim Hortons (kiosks) in their stores," he said.
"I think there's a nice consistency of brand image (with Tim Hortons). It wraps itself in the flag and is a Canadian institution. I think aligning yourself with that brand in a Canadian setting can be quite powerful."
Kellsey said customers looking to compare Tims and Starbucks in the same Safeway store shouldn't hold their breath. "That would be unlikely. We wouldn't have that much space available in our stores," she said.
Kellsey was noncommittal about how many Tim Hortons kiosks would ultimately end up in Safeway stores. About 50 of its grocery stores do not have any kind of in-store coffee retailer.
"At this point, it's just too early to say what our future plans are," she said.
Tim Hortons has more than 80 stores in Manitoba and more than 3,000 across Canada.
In some Safeway stores, Starbucks kiosks are being replaced by Tim Hortons coffee counters. In others, such as the Tuxedo and Pembina at McGillivray stores, the Starbucks locations have been closed down altogether.
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