Loblaw’s board of directors has named executive chairman Galen G. Weston as president, effective immediately. Thomas O'Neill, lead independent director, confirmed the appointment as part of a series of management changes at the company.
As executive chairman, Weston is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the company and leading the board. In assuming the role of president, Weston will also be responsible for the execution of the company's strategy, leadership of the management team and its overall business performance.
Weston has an extensive background in Canadian retail. The company credits him with being the strategic architect of reshaping the grocery business, as well as transforming Loblaw into a diversified portfolio of complementary businesses, including the creation of Choice Properties and the acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart.
"I am excited about the future, and the opportunity to execute on the strategic vision we have built for the company. I am confident that Loblaw will continue to advance its business both financially and operationally and be well positioned to create long-term sustainable value," said Weston.
Exiting the company are Vicente Trius, president since August 2011, who will be leaving for family reasons to return to Brazil, the company said, and Domenic Pilla, president of Shoppers Drug Mart, who is leaving by the end of 2014.
As part of the new management structure to support the company's evolving business, Weston has appointed Richard Dufresne as CFO of Loblaw. Dufresne's key responsibilities will be delivering the financial plan of the organization; achieving the targeted synergies related to the Shoppers Drug Mart acquisition; and de-leveraging the balance sheet. Dufresne will retain his role as CFO at George Weston Limited.
Sarah Davis, previously CFO, will become chief administrative officer, responsible for supply chain, IT (including SAP implementation), goods not for resale, Loblaw properties and strategy. Her key objective will be to deliver efficiencies across the organization, including those resulting from the implementation of SAP.
Grant Froese, previously chief administrative officer, becomes COO of the company. In this new role, Froese will be responsible for the operating performance of the market, discount and emerging business grocery operations, as well as the division support functions of control brands, e-commerce, and off-shore procurement.
Mike Motz, currently EVP and chief merchandising officer, will become the president of Shoppers Drug Mart effective on the departure of Domenic Pilla.
The rest of the broader management team remains unchanged, according to the company.
"I am very confident in the exceptionally talented team at Loblaw," added Weston. "This positions us well to leverage the potential of the new retail organization and drive financial performance."
Second quarter 2014 financial results were solid, the company said, delivering strong same store sales in both the supermarket and pharmacy businesses.
"Against the backdrop of an extremely competitive supermarket environment and the deflationary pressure of regulatory drug reform, our business continues to perform well, with strong same store sales growth in our supermarket and pharmacy businesses,” said Weston. “We expect to continue to successfully execute on our strategy in the second half of the year, as well as make material progress on our synergy targets. Since we announced the deal to acquire Shoppers Drug Mart over a year ago, we have made tremendous progress in realizing key deliverables that underpinned the transaction. Our two businesses are working well together and we are on track to deliver the first $100 million in synergies by the end of the first quarter of 2015.”
The company will report complete second quarter results July 24.