Thrifty Foods Loses a Legend

Thrifty Foods co-founder and chairman emeritus Alex A. Campbell died early Tuesday, Oct. 11, at age 70.

Born and raised in Victoria and Oak Bay, Campbell began working in the grocery trade at age 15. He became a legend in the business community for his devotion to philanthropic causes, as well as Thrifty Foods’ workers and their families. As the Island’s largest privately held employer, Thrifty Foods employs some 3,700 people, and Campbell was known for personally signing a Christmas card for each and every one of them.

He was passionate about using his resources to promote charitable causes, chairing campaigns that raised millions of dollars for organizations such as the Greater Victoria Hospitals Foundation and the Island Cancer Centre. He was awarded the Order of B.C. in 1999 and is a member of the B.C. Business Hall of Fame. The University of Victoria honoured him as a Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year, and just this year Campbell received a lifetime achievement award from the Victoria Leadership Awards.

{advertisement} Along with Ernie Skinner, Campbell opened the first Thrifty Foods in Fairfield in 1977; the business was sold to Nova Scotia-based Sobeys Inc. in 2007 for $260 million. Today, the company boasts 26 locations serving communities across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

“Alex Campbell was Thrifty Foods,” company president Jim Dores told the Times Colonist. “He was an icon, not only in the community but in the industry. I’ve never met a man who was so respected and loved and adored by his employees.”

Campbell is survived by his wife, Jo; their children Lorne, Bonnie, and Alex Jr.; and several grandchildren.