St-Viateur Bagel + Purolator
A key collaborator on the express shipping process, we spoke with Nicolo Piazza, Manager at St-Viateur Bagel, to learn about the partnership with Purolator from his experience. He’s responsible for streamlining the distribution of their fresh bagels, so that customers across North America receive them quickly.
We also spoke to Vince Morena, the current owner. Alongside his family, he runs all parts of the business operations. Nicolo and Vince have worked at St-Viateur Bagel for 23 and 37 years, respectively, so they’ve seen the business through many evolutions.
The story of St-Viateur Bagel
Fans of the Montreal bagel will likely recognize the name St-Viateur Bagel. It’s Montreal’s longest running bagel shop, established in 1957 after Myer Lewkowicz immigrated to Canada from Poland. A family-owned and operated business, today it’s run by the Morena family. St-Viateur Bagel has become famously known for its all-natural, handmade and wood fire oven-baked bagels; in Nicolo’s words: “We’ve become part of the definition of the Montreal bagel.”
St-Viateur Bagel, the brand that defines the Montreal bagel
Expanding while meeting customer expectations
St-Viateur Bagel has been steadily growing over the past decades: expanding to a second location, operating ovens out of several grocery stores, opening a cafe (which just celebrated 25 years) and expanding into West Montreal. Over this time, St-Viateur Bagel became “more than just a bagel shop. We’ve become an experience. We’ve become a tourist attraction,” Nicolo says. They now have customers spread out across North America who still want to enjoy their Montreal bagels. As a result, St-Viateur continues to expand to interprovincial grocery stores and deliver across Canada and the U.S.
Our business has changed quite a bit over the years. Right now we serve over 1,000 stores in five provinces, and it’s my dream that we become nationwide. – Vince Morena, owner of St-Viateur Bagel
As they expand, St-Viateur Bagel’s goal is to continue to meet their growing demand while delivering the promise of fresh bagels their customers love and expect. Made entirely with natural ingredients, the bagels last without refrigeration for four days. This means the shipping time needs to be incredibly quick. Essentially, next-day express shipping is a must-have.
Creating continuity with Purolator express shipping
According to Vince: “Before we partnered with Purolator, we were doing a lot of the legwork ourselves or using whatever couriers we could. We were actually driving to the airport, shipping bagels by planes, trains and buses.”
The partnership between St-Viateur Bagel and Purolator began in November 2019. Together, they laid the foundation for their working relationship and streamlined shipping solutions, unknowingly setting them up for success during the pandemic.
Only a few months later, COVID-19 disrupted the shipping industry as a whole. Purolator played an important role in ensuring continuity for St-Viateur Bagel, helping them adapt to the shift to increased online sales and shipping volumes.
Purolator became a fixture in St-Viateur Bagel’s distribution, especially because of their extensive network to provide coverage across Canada. The services that Purolator brings to the table are express shipping, LTL pickup and freight shipping for large volumes. Behind the scenes, Purolator’s API system integrates with the St-Viateur Bagel tracking portal to give them visibility into every aspect of shipping, from labelling and preparing orders, to tracking and delivery.
Purolator has made our lives a whole lot easier. Customers can order directly online, our website communicates with Purolator’s website, and then it generates the waybill. All we have to do is worry about making the best bagels in the world. – Vince Morena, owner of St-Viateur Bagel
Relationship-building is also a central reason the partnership thrives. As well as establishing trusted bonds with St-Viateur Bagel, Purolator has helped foster strong relationships with the truck drivers and depots that have taken on the increasing volumes of bagels.
St-Viateur Bagel + Purolator: A winning partnership
In the early months of 2020, St-Viateur Bagel’s sales boomed. The pandemic shifted pressure to e-commerce and then, in April 2020, the bagel shop was featured by several media outlets (such as BlogTO and Taste Toronto). When their online orders skyrocketed and their shipping volume grew by five times, Purolator was ready to respond. In the midsummer heat, Purolator helped to eliminate unnecessary steps in the shipping process, getting the bagels from the depot to customers directly so they would arrive fresh.
Our bagels are fresh. There are no preservatives. Being a fresh product, they can’t sit on a truck or a plane. They need to get to their destination within one or two days max. With Purolator, our bagels were 99% guaranteed to get there the next day. – Vince Morena, owner of St-Viateur Bagel
With the rise in orders, St-Viateur Bagel’s annual shipping revenue increased by 240% in 2020 and they are projected to reach an increase of 500% in 2021, compared to 2019.
Despite the disruption of the pandemic, delivering the brand experience that customers expect is central to the partnership between St-Viateur Bagel and Purolator. On the importance of their partnership, Nicolo says: “Purolator has provided us with wonderful service and a wonderful platform to work with…. [St-Viateur Bagel] is loyal to Purolator because they offered us an opportunity to expand. Purolator just always offers the best solution, and has the best people and they’re a Canadian company.”
Raising funds by the dozen
Outside of regular business, St-Viateur Bagel and Purolator teamed up for a special delivery – both in size and in purpose. St-Viateur Bagel provided 1,440 dozen bagels for B’nai Brith Youth Organization’s Edmonton chapter (BBYO), which runs leadership and community-building programs for Jewish youth. BBYO sold the bagels to help raise funds for their initiatives.
Purolator was also a sponsor of the event, meaning that they could tap into their existing resources to help St-Viateur Bagel deliver this 65lb load. By covering part of the costs for the express shipping by airplane, they reduced the expenses for BBYO so they could dedicate even more of the funds to their community.
“[St-Viateur Bagel’s] customers receive their bagels freshly made. So it’s very important and time sensitive for them to receive their package the next day, especially when it’s travelling from Montreal all the way to Vancouver. Purolator offers express shipping to take it there by plane so it arrives the next day.”
Inside Sales Manager / Chef Ventes Internes, Purolator