Giant Tiger founder recognized at Franchise Awards gala

Giant Tiger founder Gordon Reid was honoured Monday night with the Lifetime Achievement Award at a gala event that was part of the Canadian Franchise Association’s 25th annual national conference.

 “It was time to recognize Gordon Reid for his insight, for his innovation, for his success, for the quality of the brand that Giant Tiger is,” CFA president and CEO Lorraine McLachlan said. “They’ve kept it fresh and relevant for over 55 years.”

The retailer’s president and COO, Thomas Haig, said before the gala that the award would end up trickling down from Mr. Reid.

“Our (franchise) model touches everybody, so the award not only touches Gordon, and touches people in our home office, but it actually goes to our franchise operators throughout the whole of Canada,” he said.

Mr. Reid opened the first Giant Tiger in 1961 on the corner of Dalhousie Street and George Street and used the franchising model to build the business to where it is today, with more than 200 stores across Canada.

“It’s kind of exciting, especially in today’s retail environment, that we are still alive and kicking,” Mr. Haig said.

The Giant Tiger model allows each franchise owner to determine the products that should be sold in their stores and then the Ottawa-based home office supplies them accordingly. It’s a unique model, according to Mr. Haig, and a winning one too.

“I believe this gives Giant Tiger, Giant TIger partners and store owners a step up on our competition. I think is another reason we’ve survived for 55 years and going strong,” he said.

There is another key component to the retailer’s franchising model, Mr. Haig said.

“We only give a franchise to a store owner who we believe not only earns it but lives and breathes in the community,” he said. “They live in that community and I think that’s part of our success. They get involved in the community. I think some of our store owners, if they ran for mayor in their small towns, they’d probably be elected.”

With the CFA’s 25th annual national conference in Ottawa, Ms. McLachlan said it was a good opportunity for her group to declare Tuesday National Franchise Awareness Day.

Ms. McLachlan said the extent that franchise businesses contribute to the Canadian government is not fully understood.

“Revenue Canada and Stats Canada, when they do their analysis, they don’t have information that says are you a corporate business model or are you a franchise business model,” she said. “There are no detailed statistics on how many restaurants are franchised, how many retail outlets are franchised.”

Ms. McLachlan said there are more than 1,500 brands and 78,000 franchise units across the country, contributing $68 billion to the Canadian economy and employing almost one million people.

She said many people see no difference between a franchise and a corporate chain store.

“The big difference is of course the opportunity for so many individuals in Canada to actually own their own business. That’s massive.”

With a day filled with meeting parliamentarians, “we’re bringing that message to the Canadian government,” she said.