Sherry Franche, who owns the M&M Meat Shops Store 501 franchise at Thompson Plaza, says she has been hearing rumours for the last year that the store is either closing, moving, or that she is trying to unload the franchise, which she opened in April 2009.
None of the rumours are true, Franche says, but taken together they take an insidious toll on business. “Customers ask me about it every week,” she said May18. “Some people are reluctant to do business with you if they wonder if you are going to be here in a week or a month or whatever.”
Mac Voisin and former business partner Mark Nowak founded M&M Meat Shops Ltd. in 1980 in Kitchener, Ont. M&M stands for Mark and Mac. Voisin owns about 90 per cent of M&M's shares, while James Petrozzi, the company’s chief executive officer since 1989, who previously worked in marketing management with Schneider’s Foods and Green Giant, owns about 10 per cent. The original product selection of 62 items (mostly frozen), were originally only available in hotels and restaurants. Today, the M&M product line has expanded to over 375 products.
M&M products are developed using a method called flash-freezing. The process freezes food at extremely low temperatures in a matter of seconds, with the intent of preserving the natural texture, taste and nutrients of foods. Each store is set up with a single aisle and large, glass-door freezers to display products.
The first franchise was opened in June 1981, just nine months after the first store opened in Kitchener. Today, M&M ranks as Canada’s largest chain of frozen food stores with around 500 locations from coast to coast in every province and territory, sales of close to $500 million annually and more than 200 corporate employees and 2,000 franchise store employees.
Franche said there have been several variations on the local rumours, including suggestions she was unhappy with her lease at Thompson Plaza and wanted to move but couldn’t find a suitable location. “I grew up in Thompson and it is terrible for rumours,” Franche said.
The fact there have been a number of store closings carried out or imminent in the area since last September, including Extra Foods in the plaza, slated to close June 23, which was announced by Loblaw near the end of April, along with the closings earlier of Staples, Blockbuster Video and Rogers Plus, has just added more grist to the rumour mill, she said.
In 2008, M&M Meat Shops Ltd. expanded into the United States with MyMenu stores, similar in branding to M&M in Canada, but wound up closing their stand-alone MyMenu retail stores in Wisconsin and Indiana by 2010. MyMenu still features within The Andersons stores in Maumee, Toledo and Columbus Ohio.