Believe it or not, one of Canada's largest private companies, The Jim Pattison Group, began in 1961 as a single car dealership. More than 400 acquisitions later, the conglomerate has interests in grocery stores, entertainment, advertising, magazine distribution, broadcasting, and automotive retailing, among other industries. Its holdings include Ripley Entertainment (some 75 attractions in a dozen countries worldwide), the Overwaitea Food Group (including Save-On-Foods), food wholesaler Buy-Low Foods, the Canadian Fishing Company (which produces Gold Seal salmon), and the News Group (North America's second-largest magazine and newspaper distributor). Billionaire, founder and CEO Jim Pattison owns the company.
With more than $7 billion in annual sales (up 16% from 2005), The Jim Pattison Group operates from some 450 locations worldwide. Its businesses are located primarily in Canada, though Ripley Entertainment has been expanding worldwide with museums in Japan, Kuwait, Mexico and Bangalore, India. The entertainment group's Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Canada is the firm's first foray into the water park and resort industries. The entertainment division also operates a pair of aquariums under the Ripley name in Tennessee and South Carolina, and in 2008 it purchased London-based Guinness World Records from HIT Entertainment, adding the annual book of record-breaking achievements to its portfolio. The company's Broadcast Group owns and operates about 30 FM radio stations and several television stations in British Columbia and Alberta.
Other group activities include auto leasing and retailing through Jim Pattison Lease and The Jim Pattison Auto Group (British Columbia's #1 auto retailer, dealing in Hyundai, Jeep, Lexus, Toyota, and Volvo automobiles.) The company is also engaged in export and financial services through Westshore Terminals (coal export), Jim Pattison Real Estate, and Great Pacific Capital. Pattison Sign Group (PSG), which leases and maintains more than 40,000 signs annually, is the largest on-premise sign and visual communication company in Canada and among the largest in the world. In 2008 PSG signed an agreement with Canadian convenience store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard to provide signage for Couche-Tard and Mac's stores in Canada, and Circle K stores in the US (more than 5,000 locations in all).
Buy-Low Foods is Canada's largest food wholesale distributor serving about 1,800 retail accounts. Buy-Low also operates 20-plus corporate and franchised grocery stores in Alberta and British Columbia. Banners include Buy-Low Foods, AG Foods, Shop 'n' Save, Budget Foods, Nesters Markets and Keller Foods. Also on the retail side, the Overwaitea Food Group is one of Western Canada's leading grocers with more than120 supermarkets under six banners in Alberta and British Columbia. – less