After being in business for 65 years, Longo's has agreed to sell a majority share of its operations to Sobeys' parent company, Empire Co.

On Tuesday morning, Nova Scotia-based Empire announced that it has reached an agreement to buy 51% of independent grocery chain Longo’s and its online service Grocery Gateway in a deal worth $357 million.

The multi-million dollar deal will add Longo’s 36 Ontario-based stores to Empire’s growing collection of brands, including Sobeys, Farm Boy, Foodland, and FreshCo -- further expanding Empire's strategic goal of growing its market presence in Ontario.

The addition of Grocery Gateway will add 70,000 long-standing online customers to Empire's e-commerce business.

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Though, through the acquisition, Longo's and Grocery Gateway will continue to be operated by the Longo's leadership team, led by President and CEO, Anthony Longo.

Empire said the deal adds two high-quality banners to its business and helps it grow in Ontario. Empire also said Longo's will be able to benefit from its infrastructure and capabilities in areas such as sourcing, logistics, and real estate.

"Empire has strong momentum and we are laser-focused on our Project Horizon growth plans in key markets like the GTA, both in bricks and mortar and e-commerce," said Michael Medline, President and CEO, Empire.

"Longo's has built one of the most successful and sought-after brands in the GTA and Southwestern Ontario. Longo's is a crown jewel of grocery and as a values-driven company, Longo's culture aligns closely with Empire. We couldn't be happier to be partnering with Anthony and the Longo's team."

1615889427481 1024x536Courtesy of Longo's

Longo's, a long-standing, family-built network of specialty grocery stores in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), was founded in Toronto in 1956 by Tommy, Joe, and Gus Longo.

Today, the business has grown to 36 locations in the GTA, including 10 new stores in the last five years and the Grocery Gateway e-commerce business. Sales were approximately $1.1 billion for the year ended February 28, 2021.

"With strong alignment to our family values and purpose, we look forward to working together with Empire to bring the Longo's experience to even more Canadian families," said Anthony Longo.

"The more we learned about Empire, the clearer it became that this was the right team to partner with to support our next chapter of growth. And of course, we will continue to offer the same high-quality service and fresh products, exceptional private-label offering and the convenience of e-commerce that our guests have come to know and love," said Longo.

The Stellarton, NS, based grocery giant Empire also operates Safeway, IGA, Thrifty Foods, and e-commerce business Voilà.

The deal, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the first quarter of Empire's 2022 financial year.