The Canadian drug chain broke ground on the 3.4 million-square-foot site Friday in a ceremony attended by chairman Jean Coutu, president and chief executive officer François Coutu, and other company executives, as well as Varennes mayor Martin Damphousse.
Jean Coutu Group said its new facilities, being built by contractor Montoni Group, will occupy 883,000 square feet, 50% larger than its current space in a Longueuil, Quebec, industrial park, where the chain drug retailer has been based since 1976. The new site is situated north of Longueuil near Autoroute 30 on the south shore of Montreal.
Plans call for the distribution center section to be built first, followed this August by the construction of the headquarters facility.
“It is with a great deal of enthusiasm that we begin the construction of our new headquarters. The facilities in Varennes will be at the cutting edge of technology, guaranteeing high standards of productivity while ensuring an enjoyable and safe work environment for our employees,” François Coutu said in a statement.
The $190 million (Canadian) project was announced last May. Jean Coutu Group said at the time that its current facilities can no longer support the needs of its expanding drug store franchise network. Besides being better able to serve its store network, the new facilities will allow Jean Coutu Group to operate more efficiently, according to the company.
Overall, Jean Coutu Group operates a network of 413 franchised stores in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario under the banners of PJC Jean Coutu, PJC Clinique, PJC Santé, and PJC Santé Beauté. The company also owns Pro Doc Ltd., a Quebec-based manufacturer of generic drugs.
From left to right : Ron Keays, GKC Architects; Marc Dumas, Jean Coutu Group; Dario Montoni, Montoni Group; Frank Di Paolo, Montoni Group; Francois Coutu, Jean Coutu Group; Jean Coutu, Jean Coutu Group; Martin Damphousse, City of Varennes; Normand Messier, Jean Coutu Group; Andre Belzile, Jean Coutu Group; Helene Bisson, Jean Coutu Group; and Guillaume Marchand, City of Varennes.