MONTREAL- Well-known Montreal ethnic food retailer Marche Adonis is now part of the Metro supermarket chain.

Metro, which runs a chain of supermarkets in Quebec and Ontario, purchased a 55-per-cent interest in the Adonis operation, which includes its distributor Phoenicia Products.

Adonis continues to own the other 45 per cent and will continue managing its operations, which employs roughly 1,000 workers.

"It's very important that nothing changes. That's the reason we structured this transaction as a partnership. Management stays in place, employees stay in place and we hope that no one sees a difference," said Senior V.P. of Metro Inc. Richard Dufresne

Metro CEO Eric La Fleche said the Adonis connection will help Metro reach out to cultural communities and improve its position in ethnic food retail.

Adonis, which was founded in 1978, currently operates three stores in Montreal and one in Laval. A fifth store will open by the end of this year in Brossard.

"We are very successful and we noticed that even if they open markets near us it doesn't affect our business," said Adonis spokesperson Moise Moghrabi.

Phoenicia Products operates two warehouses, one in Montreal and another in Toronto.

No purchase price was announced.

Adonis was launched by brothers Elie Cheaib and Jamil Cheaib and George Ghrayeb who moved to Canada from Damour Lebanon in 1976.

They opened their first store, a modest 1,000 square foot shop at Faillon and Lajeunesse, in 1979.

Metro, with 600 stores, controls about one third of the Quebec market and is considered one of the big three supermarket chains along with Sobeys and Loblaw's.

With a file from The Canadian Press