For more than four decades, the M&M brand has been an important part of communities across the country, providing Canadians with easy-to-prepare meal solutions—all within a personalized shopping experience. A lot has changed over the past 40 years, and the brand has adapted and responded to economic downturns, changing consumer tastes, and an increasingly competitive retail environment. These experiences have positioned M&M Food Market as a strong and resilient franchise opportunity.
A trusted iconic brand
A large part of the brand’s success has been its network of franchisees, including Cheryl Martin in St. Thomas, Ont. Back in 1986 when she was a grade school teacher and had three kids at home, she started looking for a new opportunity.
“I was in control of my own destiny,” says Martin. “The things I’ve learned, education couldn’t have taught me. You pick up many skills on the job.”
Kristen Baker was 10 years old when her mom, Cheryl, opened the St. Thomas location and spent time at the store after school and on weekends. As a result, Baker grew up with M&M.
“I don’t think I ever thought I was going to take over the business,” says Baker, who has been managing the store for the past 15 years. “It gives me the flexibility to take my daughter to school and be home for her as well during school time. Do I think it was the best career move? Yes, I definitely do.”
When M&M was acquired by Searchlight Capital in 2014, the company began one of the most transformative rebranding efforts in Canadian retail history where every aspect of the business was rethought and reimagined. After updating the name to reflect the wider range of products, M&M Food Market introduced a modern store design, new products and packaging, a leading-edge loyalty program, revamped e-commerce capabilities, and newly trained in-store meal advisors.
During the recent brand transformation, there has been a focus to attract new franchise partners like Jill McAninch-King who has owned her store in Nepean, Ont. for more than a year now. She always shopped at M&M as a single mother, and then as a mom with three grown children.
“I had a corporate career for 25 years,” says McAninch-King. “I thought I was going to be a lifer, but in the back of my head I kept thinking I needed something different. I needed to be doing something on my own. We always teach our kids to do a job they love, and they’ll never work another day in their life, but I wasn’t living that.”
Personalized shopping experience with expert meal advice
Personalized service and expert meal advice are what customers have come to expect from M&M Food Market, and now, more than half the network of stores have been renovated with the new open-concept design.
“We’re here to help,” says McAninch-King. “We’re out from behind the counter. And if customers don’t feel comfortable opening the freezer door and grabbing the product, we’ll do it for them. That’s the difference between shopping in a grocery store and shopping at M&M.”
Deanna Fronzi, a second-generation franchise partner who owns two stores in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and is looking toward her third, started working at her parent’s store 14 years ago after finishing university.
“We provide a personal touch and create genuine relationships with our customers,” says Fronzi. “It doesn’t feel like work because you’re having meaningful interactions with people, offering advice, and recommending products I feel good about having them serve to their families.”
Helping Canadians make real food for real life
After revamping its entire food portfolio, M&M Food Market is now the only food retailer in Canada that does not use any artificial colours, flavours, or sweeteners in any of its more-than-450 products.
Drew Bishop and Andrew Nandee have worked together for almost two years as owners of two franchise stores in Calgary. Both had many experiences with the brand growing up, including regular visits while in university. When Bishop and his wife bought a house and had a family, he really started to see the advantages of owning an M&M franchise.
“I went to the neighbourhood store to get some butter chicken when I saw the ‘for sale’ sign,” says Bishop. “I started talking to the franchise operator, and what should have been a five-minute trip, ended up being an hour-long visit. When I got home, my wife wasn’t impressed because I took so long—that’s when I asked her what she thought about buying the store.”
M&M Food Market offers more than 40 gluten-free products spanning every category. Customers can trust they will find something that suits their dietary needs—from appetizers to desserts and everything in between.
“A lot of people have very good memories surrounding our food, so it plays an important role in shaping their experience,” says Bishop. “It’s also a big part of their family functions and special occasions, so I like that aspect of what we do.”
The M&M Food Market’s “real food promise” has remained a key differentiator that sets the brand apart from its competitors. This year, M&M launched
60 new or reformulated products to meet the needs of its customers based on consumer insights and research.
“Many customers tell me they’re going on a date, or they’re having a gathering of people, but they don’t want to let anybody know they can’t cook,” says Nandee. “They come to M&M, put it in their own special dish, serve it up, throw away the boxes, and nobody’s the wiser.”