Sales Representative in Canada

Overview by

Commercial Intermediaries

Trading Companies
  • Type of Organization
In Canada, most hypermarkets centralize their purchasing at their headquarters which are concentrated especially in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Some specialized sectors have got together and formed their own purchasing groups in order to obtain better prices.
  • Main Actors
The leading actors in the food sector are: Sobey's, Loblaw and Métro. In hardware, DIY and decoration we have Rona, Home Hardware and Home Dépot.
  • Type of Organization
Wholesalers are called "distributors" in Canada. These companies play essentially the same role, i.e. sales, warehousing, distribution, marketing, promotion of food, DIY and pharmaceutical products or others. Some distributors are small and play a regional or provincial role. Given the population of about 33 million, spread over 10 million km2, 10 provinces and 3 territories, small regional distributors must often diversify their offer to meet demand and make a profit.
  • Main Actors
The list is very long. To quote but a few:
Fresh produce: Quebec Produce Growers Association
Grocers : Atlantic Grocery Ltd
Garden tools: Garant
Automobile parts: Automaster Supplies
Textiles : Freder Textile
Useful Resources
Canadian Wholesale Directory

Using a Commercial Agent

The Advantages
A commercial agent in Canada will generally represent one or several companies. Paying on commission is an effective and inexpensive way for an SME to be represented in a region or a province.
There are other advantages; we can highlight especially: delivering goods "Just in time", billing in Canadian dollars, the proximity of a very large market in the United States.
Where to Be Vigilant
The agent should be chosen for his motivation to represent the company, the quality of his customer network and his skills. The company behind him must however provide the training, the technical support, and all the necessary materials for good representation, i.e. samples, prices, promotional tools, etc.
Elements of Motivation
Over and above his commission, the agent needs to feel he is supported; so the company must ensure good back-up and supervision.
The Average Amount of Commission
Commission is based on the sales turn-over in the area covered by the agent. It varies according to the sector of activity, for example in fashion, the rate of commission is from 12 to 15%. In the food sector it is from 5% to 10%.
Breach of Contract
A breach of contract may contain different clauses which are drawn up during negotiations and can vary. However, in certain industries, associations have been created to protect agents, and thus pre-established contracts have been produced.
Finding a Commercial Agent
The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service
Agent Solo
Find Sales and Distribution Service Providers in Canada on

Setting Up a Commercial Unit

The Advantages
There are several possibilities for a foreign company which wishes to open a subsidiary or a branch in Canada. Resorting to specialized consulting firms can be easy, not very expensive and can gain time.
Where to Be Vigilant
Long term planning should be considered as far as is possible and targeting all of the North American market.
Different Possible Forms of Settlement
  • A Representative Office
Some business centers are specialized in facilitating start-up by offering domiciliation, warehousing, order taking, invoicing services etc. Trading Houses also offer representation, import, distribution and marketing services.
  • A Branch Office
A firm forming a company abroad may decide to open a branch office because of certain tax advantages linked to this legal structure. Before a foreign company can open a branch office, it must obtain a commercial permit or register in the province where it intends to do business.
  • A Company
A foreign company can set up in Canada by creating a separate legal entity or a subsidiary under Canadian federal law or a provincial law governing companies. A subsidiary is treated in the same way as a branch office. It must have a commercial permit or be registered in the province where it does business.


Evolution of the Sector
Due diligence is the same for acquiring or starting up all types of companies. Canada is known for being the country with the most franchises per inhabitant. Potential sectors: real estate, automobile, clothing, food industry, glasses and catering.
Some Big Franchises
St-Hubert, grills
Remax, real estate
Jean Coutu, pharmacies
Mazda Canada, cars
For Further Information
Planète Franchise
Canada Franchise Opportunities
Canadian Franchise Association
Be the Boss
Quebec franchise

Finding Assistance

Export Trading Companies
Alpha Logistics
SDV Logistique
Find more on about Selling to Canada.

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