Born in Victoria in 1941, Alex Campbell is known as a Vancouver Island business success story. He started in the grocery business at 15 years of age not as an owner but as an employee, bagging groceries and stocking shelves as Super Valu.
From bag boy, Alex worked his way up in the industry to become District Manager for Shop Easy stores in Vancouver, but this was only the beginning. With a strong vision and entrepreneurial spirit, Alex opened The 49th Parallel Grocery in Ladysmith in 1973 and quickly went on to build one of Canada’s most respected, high-quality grocery chains with Thrifty Foods starting in 1977.
Campbell served as President & CEO of Thrifty Foods until 2003 and currently serves as Chairman Emeritus.
In 2007, Campbell sold the business to Sobeys, but not before building a chain of highly respected and successful locations throughout Vancouver Island. Thrifty Foods and Alex Campbell himself have been synonymous with good corporate citizenship.
Campbell was stalwart supporter of his employee, local producers and manufacturers and the community. Leading by example and being committed to “putting back”, he has continuously and generously supported local food banks, elementary and high school students, children with disabilities, the arts and the environment.
Campbell’s passion for his community is apparent through his philanthropic giving both personally and through his business. He has served and continues to serve on a number of committees including past membership on the Board of Advisors in the Faculty of Business at UVic, serving as Honourary Chair of the Better Together Campaign for the Greater Victoria Hospital Foundation from 1994-96 and as a Member of the BC Progress Board in 2003. He was also Chair of the Daring to Believe Capital Campaign with the BC Cancer Foundation from 1998-2002 which raised over $6.4 million, Chairman of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors from 2006-2008 and Chair of the BC Cancer Foundation Vancouver Island Advisory Council from 2003-present.
Campbell has been repeatedly recognized as a leader in business for his fairness, generosity and unyielding dedication to his community. Since 1989, Campbell has received a number of awards including National Entrepreneur of the Year for Service Excellence in 1997, Honourary Citizen of Victoria in 1998, Victoria’s Business Person of the Year in 1989, and the Order of BC in 1999. He received an Honourary Doctorate of Laws from Royal Roads University in 2000 and from The University of Victoria in 2009, the CIBC Spirit of Leadership Community Award for community spirit and corporate giving excellence in 2004 and the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors’ (CCGD) Robert Beaudry Award of Excellence in 2008. In 2009, Mr. Campbell received the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award.