Galen Weston named Loblaw president, executive chairman; Shoppers Drug Mart names new president

BRAMPTON, Ontario — The Board of Directors of Loblaw Cos. on Thursday announced that Galen Weston, executive chairman, also has been appointed 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 in leading the board. In assuming the position of president, Weston also will 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, Loblaw stated. He has been 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," Weston said.
 
The company also announced additional management changes.
 
Vicente Trius, president since August 2011, will be leaving the business effective today for family reasons to return to Brazil. In commenting on Trius' departure, Weston said: "Vicente has made an enormous impact on virtually every aspect of our business in the time that he has been with the company. Our businesses are stronger, our customer proposition more compelling and our operating effectiveness much improved. He has set a strong foundation for the future.
 
"When we release our second-quarter results next week," Weston said, "You will see that Vicente and the team have delivered another solid quarter in a very competitive supermarket environment, with synergies, SAP and efficiencies on track. With the business in very good shape, Vicente felt it was the right time to leave Loblaw. I respect his decision, and on behalf of the board and all of our colleagues in the business, I thank him for his many contributions."
 
The company also announced that Domenic Pilla , president of Shoppers Drug Mart, is leaving by the end of 2014. Weston said that, "Domenic has done an outstanding job at Shoppers Drug Mart since he joined the business almost three years ago. He played a pivotal role in the negotiation of the agreement to acquire Shoppers Drug Mart last year, and since then Domenic has been actively engaged in driving Shoppers Drug Mart's business to deliver on its plan. As well, Domenic has been focused on working with the team to ensure we realize the synergies identified for the combined businesses as a result of the acquisition. Domenic is leaving as he would like to continue his career by pursuing opportunities to lead a widely-held public company, and we are respectful of his decision.
 
"For the balance of the year, Domenic will remain as president of Shoppers Drug Mart and be fully engaged in the business.  In addition to his normal duties, Domenic will work very closely with me to deliver on several important initiatives, including the transition to a new president of Shoppers Drug Mart. I have every confidence that Domenic will continue to make a significant contribution in the second half of the year," Weston said.
 
As part of the new management structure to support the Company's evolving business, Weston appointed seasoned operational leaders to assume the following key roles:
 
  • Richard Dufresne will assume the role of CFO of Loblaw. 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. Davis, who was appointed CFO in 2010, has an exceptional understanding of the company. This, in combination with her strong financial background, particularly in operational roles, will be instrumental in driving Loblaw to achieve additional operational efficiencies;
  • 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. Grant is a strong merchant with more than 30 years of food retail experience and a strong record of delivering results; and
  • Mike Motz, currently EVP and chief merchandising officer, will become the president of Shoppers Drug Mart effective on the departure of Domenic Pilla, and will be responsible for delivering the strategic and operational plan for Shoppers Drug Mart, continuing on the foundation Pilla has built. Motz, an 11-year veteran of the business, was instrumental with Pilla in increasing Shoppers Drug Mart's competitiveness, customer offer and loyalty program.
 
The rest of the broader management team remain unchanged.
 
"I am very confident in the exceptionally talented team at Loblaw," Weston said. "This positions us well to leverage the potential of the new retail organization and drive financial performance," he said. "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. 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." 
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