No Frills (grocery store)

Last updated

No Frills
Type Supermarket
Industry Retail
Founded1978;44 years ago (1978)
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Number of locations
247 (as of 2016)
ProductsBakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, gasoline (select locations), general grocery, general merchandise, liquor (select locations), meat & poultry, pharmacy, produce, seafood, snacks
Parent Loblaw Companies
Slogan: (No frills) Won’t Be Beat

No Frills (currently styled NOFRILLS and formerly styled nofrills) is a Canadian chain of discount supermarkets, owned by Loblaw Companies Limited, a subsidiary of George Weston Limited. There are over 200 franchise stores located in nine Canadian provinces. [1]



A No Frills store in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto Parkdale No Frills.jpg
A No Frills store in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto
No Frills in Markham MarkhamNoFrills7.jpg
No Frills in Markham

The first No Frills store was a converted Loblaws outlet slated for closure. The store opened on July 5, 1978, in East York, Toronto. While it offered a very limited range of goods and basic customer service, the store promoted discount prices. The opening of the prototype outlet coincided with a period of rising inflation rates and consumer complaints regarding the high price of food. [2] Similar limited variety supermarkets had been in operation in Europe for a number of years, and had captured significant market share in several countries. [3]

Months earlier, Loblaw had launched a line of generic products called "No Name" that consisted of 16 unbranded items in very basic yellow and black packaging. The new line was promoted as offering savings of between 10 and 40 percent over comparable national brands. [4] As No Name sales exceeded the company's own projections, Loblaws Supermarkets president Dave Nichol predicted the day when "limited line stores" would offer a complete assortment of No Name groceries [5] While the first No Frills (originally branded no frills) featured the new generic product line, most items were still national brands. Though the European model typically offered dry goods, Loblaw promoted "fresh produce at the lowest possible price" [6] as a way of attracting customers. [7]

Former logo in 2007. The banana was later removed along with a format change. No Frills Logo 2007.svg
Former logo in 2007. The banana was later removed along with a format change.

In order to reduce costs as much as possible, No Frills customers had to forego some of the conveniences that North American supermarket shoppers had come to expect. Customers were required to pack their own groceries and bring their own shopping bags or pay three cents for each. [8] The prototype store had only four checkout counters and operated on a "low labour" principle of minimal staffing. [9] Product displays were purely functional with items left in their cardboard boxes with the front cut away. Produce, normally washed and stacked, was left unwashed in its shipping carton. The original store did not offer fresh meat since refrigeration units had been removed to reduce expenses. Instead of the 8,000 items normally carried by the average supermarket, only 500 were available, usually represented by one brand and in only one size. Instead of each item individually marked, prices were displayed overhead and customers were provided with a price list. Cashiers underwent three weeks of training and were required to memorize all prices in the store. Loblaws president Dave Nichol promoted the minimalism of the new operations as a way to save money in a difficult economy. "We took all the frills out." [9]

In spite of the limited product selection and minimal customer service, the first No Frills store, which advertised "the lowest overall food prices in Toronto", was successful from the initial launch. Opening day drew more shoppers than the store could handle. [10]

While some first day customers complained about the added inconveniences, most said they didn't mind and were pleased with the money they saved. With the successful launch of the prototype store, Loblaw began converting a number of its older, more marginal outlets to the new discount format. Within a few months, the company had opened three No Frills stores in Toronto. [7]

During the 1980s, the chain expanded beyond the Greater Toronto Area. In 1988, there were 19 No Frills stores located in Ontario. [11] A year earlier, Loblaw began converting the outlets from company owned stores to franchise operations. The number of stores more than doubled to 48 by 1994. [12] By the late 1990s, that number had increased to 79 outlets. [13] The new franchise operations typically displayed the name of the owner, such as "Joe's nofrills" or "Derek's nofrills". While most No Frills stores were former Loblaws locations, the company had also acquired outlets. Three former Knob Hill Farms supermarkets in Toronto were converted to No Frills after the chain had closed all of its stores in 2001 due to increasing competition. In 2007, Loblaw began expanding No Frills beyond Ontario, first into Western Canada, and later into Atlantic Canada.


Inside a typical No Frills store. Oak Ridges neighbourhood, Richmond Hill OakRidgesNoFrills.jpg
Inside a typical No Frills store. Oak Ridges neighbourhood, Richmond Hill
No Frills sign Nofrills sign.jpg
No Frills sign

Currently, No Frills stores are much more like conventional supermarkets but continue to feature deep discount prices. Items are typically left in their cardboard shipping boxes but are arranged on store shelves and produce is conventionally displayed. While the original No Frills outlets stocked only the most basic products, today's stores offer a wide array of items and brands that include Loblaw's own private or 'control label' products. No Name, which is still heavily featured, has expanded from the original 16 items to more than 2,900 and the company's premium "President's Choice" line is readily available on store shelves.

The range of services has also expanded with some outlets that offer fresh meat and fish counters, some which have premium offerings. Frozen food sections, excluded from the original stores due to the cost of refrigeration, are now standard. Other features remain unchanged, though, with No Frills customers still required to pack their own groceries and bring their own shopping bags or pay 5 cents per bag. Loblaw's other major supermarket chain, Loblaws which is considered a full-service supermarket, has been moved upmarket and features exclusive amenities not found in No Frills such as a bakery, deli, and fresh prepared-counter all in-store; at No Frills there is a much smaller selection of these types of foods which are prepared off-site and sent to the store. [14] Some Loblaws stores have been converted into No Frills, even in affluent neighbourhoods like Bayview Hill in the Greater Toronto Area.

Hauler ad campaign

In May 2018, NoFrills launched a new marketing campaign called Hauler. The company released their own limited NoFrills themed clothing line, including T-shirts and hoodies. [15] A TV advertisement and song; also called Hauler, were released to promote the campaign. The song was subsequently posted on music streaming platforms.

In May 2020, NoFrills released a second song; A Cart Apart, to promote social distancing and safe shopping practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. [16]

In September 2020, a full length album called Haulin' State of Mind was released, containing the two previously released songs, along with new material. [17] Many NoFrills stores periodically play these songs over instore loudspeakers as a form of background music. The Song Bananas was featured in a skit on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, thinking the song was from an actual musical artist, not a grocery store chain. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jewel-Osco</span> Supermarket chain in the Chicago area

Jewel-Osco is a regional supermarket chain in the Chicago metropolitan area, headquartered in Itasca, a western suburb. In 2007, the company had 188 stores across northern, central, and western Illinois; eastern Iowa; and portions of northwest Indiana. Jewel-Osco has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Boise-based Albertsons since 1999. The company originally started as a door-to-door coffee delivery service before it expanded into delivering non-perishable groceries and later into grocery stores, and supermarkets. Prior to its 1984 acquisition by American Stores, Jewel evolved into a large multi-state holding company that operated several supermarket chains and other non-food retail chain stores located from coast to coast and had operated under several different brand names.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Supermarket</span> Large format of grocery store

A supermarket is a self-service shop offering a wide variety of food, beverages and household products, organized into sections. This kind of store is larger and has a wider selection than earlier grocery stores, but is smaller and more limited in the range of merchandise than a hypermarket or big-box market. In everyday U.S. usage, however, "grocery store" is synonymous with supermarket, and is not used to refer to other types of stores that sell groceries.

PAK'nSAVE is a New Zealand discount food warehouse chain owned by the Foodstuffs cooperative. It is one of the three main supermarket chains, alongside Countdown and New World.

Loblaws Inc. is a Canadian supermarket chain with stores located in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Headquartered in Brampton, Ontario, Loblaws is a subsidiary of Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada's largest food distributor.

Loblaw Companies Limited is a Canadian retailer encompassing corporate and franchise supermarkets operating under 22 regional and market-segment banners, as well as pharmacies, banking and apparel. Loblaw operates a private label program that includes grocery and household items, clothing, baby products, pharmaceuticals, cellular phones, general merchandise and financial services. Loblaw is the largest Canadian food retailer, and its brands include President's Choice, No Name and Joe Fresh.

Sobeys Inc. is the second largest supermarket chain in Canada, with over 1,500 stores operating across Canada under a variety of banners. Headquartered in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, it operates stores in all ten provinces and accumulated sales of more than C$25.1 billion in the fiscal 2019 operating year. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Empire Company Limited, a Canadian business conglomerate.

Atlantic Superstore is a Canadian supermarket chain. The chain operates 54 stores in the Maritimes of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. It is owned by George Weston Limited through Loblaw Companies Limited, and operates under the Atlantic Wholesalers division of Loblaws.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Galen Weston</span> British-Canadian billionaire businessman (1940–2021)

Willard Gordon Galen Weston was a British-Canadian billionaire businessman and Chairman Emeritus of George Weston Limited, a Canadian food processing and distribution company. Weston and his family, with an estimated net worth of US$8.7 billion, are listed as the third wealthiest in Canada and 178th in the world by Forbes magazine.

A discount store or discounter offers a retail format in which products are sold at prices that are in principle lower than an actual or supposed "full retail price". Discounters rely on bulk purchasing and efficient distribution to keep down costs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">President's Choice</span> Private label brand of the Loblaw Companies

President's Choice or PC are a line of grocery products or services offered by a Canada based company, Loblaw Companies Ltd. The various products are available at the companies retail locations.

Real Canadian Superstore is a chain of supermarkets owned by Canadian food retailing giant Loblaw Companies. Its name is often shortened to Superstore, or, less commonly, RCSS.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Franklins</span> Defunct Australian supermarket chain

Franklins was an Australian discount supermarket chain selling packaged groceries and perishables throughout New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. It sold the "No Frills" home brand generic products. In 2011 the chain was bought by Metcash and the stores were sold off, shut down or converted into new supermarket banners or other brands. The final store closed in April 2015.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Price Rite</span> Supermarket chain in the northeastern United States

Price Rite is a chain of supermarkets found in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Based in Keasbey, New Jersey, Price Rite is owned by New Jersey-based Wakefern Food Corporation, the cooperative behind ShopRite Supermarkets, Dearborn Market, and The Fresh Grocer. Prior to 2014, Wakefern owned and operated all Price Rite stores.

A warehouse store or warehouse supermarket is a food and grocery retailer that operates stores geared toward offering deeper discounted prices than a traditional supermarket. These stores offer a no-frills experience and warehouse shelving stocked well with merchandise intended to move at higher volumes. Unlike warehouse clubs, warehouse stores do not require a membership or membership fees. Warehouse stores can also offer a selection of merchandise sold in bulk. Typically, warehouse stores are laid out in a logical format; this leads customers in a certain way around the store to the checkout. For example, as one enters the store they are directed down an aisle of discounted products. From there the layout could then lead to the fresh produce department, followed by the deli and bakery departments at the back of the store. Often, certain customer service niceties, like the bagging of groceries, are not done by store employees; this helps reduce overall cost. Many warehouse stores are operated by traditional grocery chains both as a way to attract lower income, value conscious consumers and to maximize their buying power in order to lower costs at their mainstream stores.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maxi (Canadian supermarket)</span> Quebec subsidiary of the Loblaw Companies

Maxi is a discount grocery retailer based in Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1984 by Provigo, it is a division of Loblaw Companies and the largest of Loblaws' Quebec supermarket chains. Maxi is the Quebec equivalent of No Frills, a chain of franchised discount grocery stores outside Quebec, except that Maxi stores are owned by the company. Over 7,000 people are employed at the Maxi and Maxi & Cie stores across Quebec.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">No Name (brand)</span> Canadian line of generic brand grocery and household products

No Name is a line of generic brand grocery and household products sold by Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada's largest food retailer. No Name products are available in stores across Canada that include Loblaws, No Frills, Dominion, Real Canadian Superstore, Your Independent Grocer, valu-mart, Zehrs, Fortinos, Provigo, Extra Foods, Super-Valu, Maxi, Atlantic Superstore, and Shoppers Drug Mart.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">FreshCo</span> Canadian chain of discount supermarkets

FreshCo Ltd. is a Canadian chain of deep discount supermarkets owned by Sobeys. It was launched in March 2010. As of April 2019, there were 98 FreshCo stores.

George Weston Limited, often referred to as Weston or Weston's, is a Canadian food processing and distribution company. Founded by George Weston in 1882, the company today consists of Weston Foods, a wholly owned subsidiary, and Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada's largest supermarket retailer, in which it maintains a controlling interest. Retail brands include President's Choice, No Name and Joe Fresh, in addition to bakery brands Wonder, Country Harvest, D'Italiano, Ready Bake and Gadoua. The company is controlled by the Weston family, which owns a majority share in George Weston Limited.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Commisso's Food Markets</span>

Commisso's Food Markets was a Canadian supermarket chain based in Beamsville, Ontario. Operating under Commisso's Grocery Distributors Limited, the chain was part of one of the largest independently owned grocery and food distribution chains in Southern Ontario. At its peak, Commisso's operated a wholesale business and distribution centre, six cash and carry outlets, and 16 supermarkets across the Niagara and Hamilton areas, where its commitment to "quality products, friendly people and low prices" proved very popular.

The retail format influences the consumer's store choice and addresses the consumer's expectations. At its most basic level, a retail format is a simple marketplace, that is; a location where goods and services are exchanged. In some parts of the world, the retail sector is still dominated by small family-run stores, but large retail chains are increasingly dominating the sector, because they can exert considerable buying power and pass on the savings in the form of lower prices. Many of these large retail chains also produce their own private labels which compete alongside manufacturer brands. Considerable consolidation of retail stores has changed the retail landscape, transferring power away from wholesalers and into the hands of the large retail chains.


  1. "Stratford Welcomes No Frills". Town of Stratford. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  2. "Canadians suffer in silence, buy less as food prices rise", Toronto Star, May 12, 1978
  3. "Food price crisis: What can be done?", Toronto Star, July 18, 1978
  4. "'No frills' war slashes grocery prices", Toronto Star, March 21, 1978
  5. "Puffery leaves the consumer cold", Globe and Mail, April 12, 1978
  6. "no frills pricelist", Loblaw Companies Limited, July 1987
  7. 1 2 "No name products – they're here to stay", Ryersonian, November 1, 1978
  8. "Loblaws opens first No Frills store in 1978". CBC. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  9. 1 2 "No-Frills supermarket is swamped on first day", Globe and Mail, July 6, 1978
  10. "Price must be right!", Toronto Sun, July 6, 1978
  11. Annual report, Loblaw Companies Limited, 1987
  12. Annual report, Loblaw Companies Limited, 1993
  13. Annual report, Loblaw Companies Limited, 1998
  14. "Supermarket Prepared Meals: What to Watch Out For - Consumer Reports".
  15. "No Frills officially launches its own clothing line". blogTO. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  16. "No Frills Drops An Auto-Tuned Rap Track To Keep Shoppers 'A Cart Apart' (VIDEO)". Narcity. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  17. "No Frills drops a surprise album: Haulin' State of Mind". themessage. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  18. "Jimmy Fallon Fooled By Canadian No Frills' Faux Album 'Haulin' State Of Mind'". ET Canada. Retrieved October 20, 2022.