Farm Boy Looks to Expand Across Canada

By Bob Peters and Kevin Lajoie
November 15, 2012

Jean-Louis and Normand Bellemare - Farm BoyCornwall Ontario - In 1981, the first Farm Boy store opened its doors in Cornwall. It was a tiny store on Cumberland Street, selling only produce.

Three years later, Jean-Louis and Normand Bellemare opened a new Farm Boy store at the current Cornwall location on Sydney Street. The larger store allowed for an expanded produce line and the addition of dairy, deli, cheese and meat product lines. An in-store bakery and bulk food line were added later.

The model of this sucessful Cornwall store would soon be introduced to consumers in Ottawa, who immediately embraced the warm and friendly stores that offered quality fresh produce, meat and bakery with top-shelf customer service.  Farm Boy (owned and operated by brothers Jean-Louis, Normand and Daniel Bellemare) has since grown into one of the most popular specialty grocery chains in Eastern Ontario, with 13 stores serving customers in the Ottawa, Cornwall, and, most recently, Kingston.

Farm Boy’s successful formula of providing the freshest products at the best possible prices has attracted a loyal following of customers, and that following could soon grow even larger.
Berkshire Partners LLC, a Boston-based investment firm, recently announced it has signed a definitive agreement to make a growth equity investment in Farm Boy. The partnership will assist with the future growth of the Farm Boy name.

“We are excited to partner with the Bellemare family, CEO Jeff York and the rest of the management team of Farm Boy, and we believe the company is very well positioned for future growth,” said Chris Hadley, Managing Director of Berkshire Partners.  “Farm Boy’s stores deliver a unique fresh and friendly shopping experience compared to other food retailers.  The company has exacting standards for freshness and quality, which translates into customer value and loyalty.”

On behalf of the Bellemares and the entire Farm Boy family, Vice President Jean-Louis Bellemare commented, “Berkshire’s long history of joining forces with family-owned businesses to create growth, combined with its experience investing in grocery retail give us great confidence that we have found the right partner to expand our business.”

“We look forward to the continued growth of the Farm Boy store base with the support of a new investing partner that shares our vision for the business,” added Farm Boy CEO Jeff York.

The investment will allow Farm Boy to open new stores and in the process create more jobs. The average Farm Boy store employs 120.

“Everything’s going to get better,” added Mr. York. “We’re going to have more (locations), and we’re going to have a lot of capital to grow Farm Boy across Canada.”

Mayor Bob Kilger said the success of Farm Boy and the company’s Cornwall roots is something that all Cornwallites can be proud of.

“The Bellemare family made a bold decision to invest in Cornwall more than 30 years ago, and thanks to their hard work and dedication, the company continues to enjoy a high level of success,” said Mayor Kilger. “Farm Boy remains an important corporate citizen and employer in Cornwall, and we’re thrilled to be a part of this great business success story.”

Recognized for providing the best-tasting fresh foods and unique products in convenient, small format stores, Farm Boy continues to innovate and differentiate itself within a crowded market segment. With the introduction of their restaurant quality meals – all ready to eat at home or in the new in-store eating areas, Farm Boy has become a destination for time-pressed consumers looking to eat well.

Berkshire Partners has a breadth of experience investing in retailers and consumer-oriented businesses. Prior transactions include Grocery Outlet, an extreme value grocery chain with more than 185 stores in the western United States and Pennsylvania, Aritzia, a women’s fashion apparel retailer in Canada, Party City, a retailer of party goods, and National Vision, a value-oriented optical retailer.

About Farm Boy Inc.

Farm Boy is an eastern Ontario, food retailer recognized for its produce, meat, bakery, cheese and fresh kitchen prepared items. Incorporated in 1981, the company provides a unique shopping experience in comparison to big box retailers or traditional grocers. Farm Boy produces its own extensive line of private label products made with absolute dedication to the highest standards of quality and freshness. Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, the company currently has 13 stores in the Greater Ottawa, Cornwall and Kingston regions with more stores planned.  For additional information, visit

About Berkshire Partners LLC

Berkshire Partners, the Boston-based investment firm, has invested in over 100 middle market companies since 1986 through eight investment funds with aggregate capital commitments of $11 billion. Berkshire has developed specific industry experience in several areas including consumer products and retail, business services, industrial manufacturing, transportation and communications.  Berkshire has a strong history of partnering with management teams to grow the companies in which we invest with the goal of consistently achieving superior investment returns. For additional information, visit

Category: Business