Cara said it sees a major opportunity to tap the experience St-Hubert has built up in selling to grocers for its other brands like Swiss Chalet. This makes sense. However, Cara should know that when Québec grocery shoppers pick up a can of St-Hubert sauce, they're also taking home a source of pride rooted in history and comforting rituals.
With the purchase, Cara gets Quebec’s number one full-service restaurant chain, which it considers a platform to expand its other brands into the province. It also gets a retail business that makes restaurant-branded food for purchase in groceries as well as two factories – currently working at about half capacity – that are ripe for developing comestibles.
Perhaps more importantly, however, it gets that which can rarely be bought: A deep pool of emotional capital that comes from 65 years of consumer loyalty.
Started by Hélène and René Léger in 1951, the franchise chicken chain is so ubiquitous in its home province that its 1960s jingle is still recognizable to most Quebeckers. Its restaurants are community gathering places, its meal packs staples on election campaign buses.
As Eric Blais of strategic marketing firm Headspace Marketing Inc. puts it, St-Hubert’s secret sauce goes far beyond the actual sauce, famed chicken and creamy coleslaw.
“Drive through any small town across Quebec and you’ll see a church, a caisse populaire [credit union] and a St-Hubert,” Mr. Blais said. “You’ll also see a busy Tim Hortons. They’re local and, like Cheers, everyone knows your name.”