Steinberg's


Steinberg's

.

Steinberg's also owned and operated several other well known businesses:
*Miracle Mart, a discount department store chain (led by daughter Mitzi and renamed "M" store in 1987), carried clothing, toys, household appliances and goods. The "M" department stores ceased operations shortly after the Steinberg's grocery chain went bankrupt and disappeared.
*Pik-Nik, popular snack-bars operating in shopping malls.
*Cardinal Distributors, a mail-order gift catalogue that merged in 1980 with Consumers Distributing.

For several decades, and until the late 1980s, Steinberg's was the largest supermarket chain in the province of Quebec. Store outlets could be spotted in nearly every district of the island of Montreal (the largest city in the province) and was a major competitor for chains like Provigo and Metro. Sam Steinberg was one of the first employers to implement mandatory bilingualism (English-French) for all his personnel and as a result, the company became so entrenched in Quebec culture that among French speakers, "Je fais mon Steinberg" ("I'm doing my Steinberg") became a synonym for going grocery shopping, regardless of supermarket chain. The chain expanded into Ontario beyond the Ottawa area, typically using the Miracle Food Mart and Ultra Food & Drug banner for its Ontario supermarkets outside of Eastern Ontario.

Trouble started brewing for Steinberg's after Sam's death in 1978, his laissez-faire dealings with the union and lack of a succession plan for the company began its decline. Things worsened rapidly when a power struggle developed between his daughter Mitzi, her husband Mel Dobrin, daughter Marilyn Steinberg Cobrin and daughter Evelyn Steinberg.

By the early 1990s, rising costs and increased competition were taking their toll, and in 1992 Steinberg's was placed on the auction block for an estimated $1.5 billion. The Ontario-based Loblaws chain initially attempted to acquire Steinberg's, a move blocked by the Quebec provincial government on nationalist grounds. They arranged for the firm to be purchased by Socanav, a shipping firm with no experience in retail. The Socanav-run Steinberg's foundered within a couple of years, and again, Loblaw attempted to buy the chain. They were again foiled by the Quebec government, who arranged for Steinberg's to be purchased by its two major local competitors Metro Richelieu and Provigo. To avoid accusations of monopoly, Metro and Provigo sold a few former Steinberg stores to IGA. The enlarged Provigo chain was eventually purchased by Loblaws a number of years later.

The Miracle Food Mart and Ultra Food & Drug stores in Ontario were sold to A&P Canada, who converted the Miracle Food Mart stores to its "A&P" and "Dominion" banners. The Ottawa locations of Steinberg's were bought by Loblaws and either converted to Loblaws banners or "Your Independent Grocer" banners or closed outright: both the Billings Bridge and Carling Ave. locations were converted to Your Independent Grocer, and the Elmvale Acres Shopping Centre location was converted to Loblaws.

By mid 1992, the Steinberg's name and its department store M disappeared, as the Steinberg's stores were absorbed and converted by its competitors, and the M stores were closed. Although Steinberg's Supermarkets, Miracle Mart/M and Cardinal Distributors are now things of the past, Sam Steinberg is survived by two of its companies which are still in business today. The first is his real estate company Ivanhoe (which absorbed Cambridge Malls in 2001 to become Ivanhoe Cambridge). The second is Pik-Nik, his restaurant chain founded in 1966.

Succession for the Steinberg's grocery chain was the subject of a 1974 National Film Board of Canada documentary by Arthur Hammond entitled "After Mr. Sam". Today, the Steinberg family is among the wealthiest in Canada.

References

* [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0007692 The Canadian Encyclopedia - Steinberg Inc.] Retrieved April 26, 2007.
* [http://www.geocities.com/zayre88/canada.html Retail in Canada]
* FNS News Service, (Nov 28, 1988). [http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1:6857050/Steinberg+feud+is+settled~R~+(food+wholesaler+and+retailer).html?refid=SEO "Steinberg's Feud is Settled."] . Retrieved June 11, 2006
* Documentary: After Mr Sam [http://www.nfb.ca/collection/films/fiche/?id=10440&v=h&lg=en&printpage=&exp=27513 "NFB Link"]


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