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Giant Tiger Stores is a well-known Canadian discount store chain which has 241 stores across Canada. The chain includes Giant Tiger, GTExpress, and Scott’s Discount in Ontario; the Tigre Géant and Chez Tante Marie in Quebec; and Giant Tiger in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan.
The chain, which employs over 7,000 people, has its headquarters and main distribution centre in Ottawa, Ontario.
Where it all began
Back in the late 1940’s, a twenty-something Gordon Reid, Giant Tiger founder, was a travelling salesman for a U.S. importer. At that time, discount stores were a new concept for consumers. One of Reid’s clients was a chain of stores known as Uncle Bill’s, which impressed and inspired him to open a discount store in Canada.
The first Giant Tiger was opened by Reid in Ottawa’s Byward Market in 1961 and was company-owned. His entire investment was a mere $15,000. After a very slow first year, with lower than expected profits, he decided to close the store. However, the going-out-of-business sale brought in enough profits for him to keep the store open.
Reid realized that by making his head office employees part-owners of the company he could ensure a successful coop, with all employees equally interested in the success of the company and sharing in the profits. By 1980, ownership had been shared between Reid and ten key employees.
In 1968, Jean-Guy Desjardins opened the first franchised Giant Tiger in Maniwaki. He did the advertising, found the location and stocked it to suit the needs of his local consumers. As Reid would explain it forty years later, the franchiser did everything and it was a great system.
In 2010, Reid reported that the issuing no-cost franchises to experienced retailers, attracted experienced people, many of whom came from Woolworth, Kresge, Kmart and Zellers. Today, over 20 Giant Tiger franchises are run by former Walmart employees.
In 1996, the Scott’s Discount brand was launched as a smaller store format.
In 2008, Giant Tiger opened its first GT Xpress outlet at a former Giant Tiger location in Ottawa’s working-class Hintonburg neighbourhood. This location provides easy-to-get-to shopping for less mobile consumers who wish to shop in their own neighbourhood.
Trucking and warehousing
Known, internally, as Tiger Trucking, Giant Tiger’s trucking fleet delivers shipments from its Ottawa warehouse to the stores, five days a week. Now, that’s efficiency!
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