Galen Weston takes over daily operations at Loblaw Shoppers head to exit

by Linda Nguyen, The Canadian Press Posted Jul 17, 2014 5:14 am MDT Galen Weston takes over daily operations at Loblaw; Shoppers head to exit AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Galen Weston is taking over the role of president at Loblaw Companies Ltd., Canada’s largest grocer, amid the abrupt departure of two senior executives.Weston, who is also executive chairman of the company, will add the day-to-day operations at the retailer to his responsibilities.The move came as the company announced president Vicente Trius was leaving to return to Brazil due to personal reasons, including recent losses in his immediate family.Domenic Pilla, president of the recently acquired Shoppers Drug Mart chain, will also be quitting Loblaw to pursue other opportunities.He will stay with the grocer until the end of the year and be replaced by Mike Motz, Loblaw’s executive vice-president and chief merchandising officer.In a conference call Thursday, Weston, whose family also owns Loblaw’s parent company, George Weston Ltd. (TSX:WN), said there is never a good time for a major change in management.“Having said that, if you had to pick a time, this is a good time given the strength of the business, the consistency the business has performed and the shift in the strategy and priorities that need to be executed going forward,” Weston said.He reassured analysts that the incorporation of Shoppers has been going according to plan.“We feel optimistic about our ability to deliver… there should not be any concern,” he said.As president, Weston will be at the forefront of the business, which has evolved from being a grocer, to include drug stores, real estate holdings and financial services.“The new structure puts Galen Weston squarely in the driver’s seat, aligning shareholders and management responsibility,” analyst Irene Nattel wrote in a note to investors.“Although Mr. Weston has been part of the C-suite since 2006, his role has been more strategic; it is now becoming more operational and focused on execution. Mr. Weston also confirmed his/Loblaw’s intention to continue to build stronger lines of communication with investors.”Nattel said the changes “should in no way be interpreted as a sign that anything is amiss.”Other changes in the corporate structure Thursday included Richard Dufresne assuming the role as chief financial officer at Loblaw. He will also remain as chief financial officer at George Weston.The company’s former head of finance, Sarah Davis, will become chief administrative officer and will be tasked with finding efficiencies across the new organization. Grant Froese will become Loblaw’s new chief operating officer.Loblaw (TSX:L) is navigating its way through a competitive time in the grocery industry with several U.S. retailers trying to snag a share of the Canadian marketplace.While the company is expected to report its financial results on July 24, Loblaw said preliminary figures point to strong same-store sales in its supermarkets and pharmacies, a key performance indicator for the retail industry.Loblaw completed its purchase of the Shoppers Drug Mart chain of stores earlier this year and is working to incorporate the two businesses more fully, including offering Loblaw’s President’s Choice products, produce and prepared meals in some Shoppers locations.Besides, its main grocery store business, Loblaw also operates the clothing line Joe Fresh, real estate trust Choice Properties, drugstore chain Shoppers Drug Mart and financial services division President’s Choice Financial. It also owns 22 different banners.Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter. read more