BRAMPTON, ON, March 23, 2021 /CNW/ – George Weston Limited (“GWL” or “George Weston”) (TSX: WN) and Loblaw Companies Limited (“Loblaw”) (TSX: L) jointly announced today the upcoming retirement of Loblaw President, Sarah Davis, on May 6, 2021. She will be succeeded by Executive Chairman, Galen G. Weston, who will become Chairman and President in addition to his current role as Chairman and CEO at GWL. The companies also announced that Robert Sawyer will join Loblaw as Chief Operating Officer (“COO”) and that Richard Dufresne, President and Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) of GWL, will expand his responsibilities to include becoming CFO of Loblaw on May 6, 2021.
“In light of George Weston’s strategic decision to focus on retail and real estate which was announced today, Sarah and I agreed that now is the right time for her to pursue her plans for an early retirement, which she first shared with me upon becoming President in 2017,” said Galen G. Weston. “Sarah has made an invaluable contribution to the company and I appreciate her leadership over the last 14 years. Her authentic, understated style, and commitment to the potential of others, have been hallmarks of her time with Loblaw. She has been an advisor and friend to many, especially to me. We wish her well.”
Sarah Davis has been with Loblaw in positions of increasing responsibility since 2007, including both CFO and CAO, during which time she played a crucial role in transforming the company from a regionally managed grocer into an omni-channel food, health, and wellness retailer with $52.7 billion in revenue. As President, Sarah led the company to reduce costs by over $1 billion through innovative productivity improvements. She established the company’s leadership in data and analytics, including the creation of Canada’s most loved loyalty program, PC Optimum. Her tenure included Loblaw’s bold expansion in financial services through the growth of PC Financial’s MasterCard, and the launch of the PC Money Account. Most significantly Sarah championed an approach to leadership and culture that put colleagues and customers first in pursuit of helping Canadians live life well.
“After 14 years at Loblaw, I am immensely proud of what the company has accomplished during my time here and look forward to the next chapter,” said Ms. Davis.
In returning to the role of Chairman and President, a position he held from 2014 to 2017, Mr. Weston said, “The sale of Weston Foods will allow me to dedicate renewed time and energy at Loblaw as we increase our momentum in both our bricks-and-mortar network, and our leadership in digital and data.”
Regarding Mr. Sawyer’s appointment as COO at Loblaw where he will have responsibility for the company’s retail divisions, supply chain, and procurement, Mr. Weston said, “I am delighted that Robert has made the decision to join the team at Loblaw. He brings a keen understanding of our business and an extensive track record of success. I look forward to Robert’s contributions including his commitment to developing the next generation of talent in the organization.”
Robert has spent over 40 years as a Canadian retail executive including an extensive career at Metro where he was COO, as well as a highly successful tenure as President and Chief Executive Officer of Rona. He has served as a Director on the Board of GWL since 2016.
“Loblaw is Canada’s leading retailer with some of the most exciting assets in the industry, including its loyalty and private label programs,” said Mr. Sawyer. “I am very much looking forward to joining the team.”
As Mr. Dufresne expands his responsibilities to include CFO of Loblaw, Mr. Weston said, “Richard is an exceptional executive with extensive experience as a CFO. With George Weston’s decision to divest the bakery business, he now has the capacity to return to the dual CFO role which he held between 2014 and 2017. I look forward to working with Richard as we accelerate Loblaw’s momentum in its core business and strategic growth areas while increasing speed and agility in both organizations.”
As part of this transition, Darren Myers will be leaving Loblaw after its Annual General Meeting on May 6, 2021. “During his tenure, Darren has been a financial steward of the organization, actively worked to improve capital discipline across the company, and contributed to Loblaw’s enormous progress against its process and efficiency agenda. He is a key member of the Management Board and his collaborative leadership style drove improvements to the finance function and the company’s management system. I would like to thank Darren for his contributions to the company as CFO over the last three and a half years and to express appreciation for his support over the coming weeks,” said Mr. Weston.
About George Weston Limited
George Weston Limited is a Canadian public company founded in 1882. The Company operates through its three reportable operating segments, Loblaw Companies Limited, Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust and Weston Foods. Loblaw provides Canadians with grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, financial services and wireless mobile products and services. Choice Properties owns, manages and develops a high-quality portfolio of commercial retail, industrial, office and residential properties across Canada. The Weston Foods operating segment includes a leading North American bakery that offers packaged bread and rolls in Canada as well as frozen and artisan bread and rolls, cakes, donuts, pies, biscuits and alternatives throughout Canada and the U.S.
About Loblaw Companies Limited
Loblaw is Canada’s food and pharmacy leader, and the nation’s largest retailer. Loblaw’s purpose – Live Life Well® – puts first the needs and well-being of Canadians who make one billion transactions annually in the company’s stores which provide grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, financial services and wireless mobile products and services. With more than 2,400 corporate, franchised and Associate-owned locations, Loblaw, its franchisees and Associate-owners employ more than 190,000 full- and part-time employees, making it one of Canada’s largest private sector employers.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities legislation, including with respect to the announced corporate actions, which reflects GWL’s and Loblaw’s current expectations regarding future events. There can be no assurance regarding (a) the ability of GWL to successfully conclude a sale of the Weston Foods business, (b) the net proceeds to be derived from a sale, (c) the timing of such a sale, (d) the impact of this announcement or GWL’s ability to meet its stated 2021 financial outlook, or (e) other risks inherent to GWL or its operating segments’ businesses and/or factors beyond its control which could have a material adverse effect on GWL.
Forward-looking information is based on a number of assumptions and is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond GWL and Loblaw’s control that could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those that are disclosed in or implied by such forward-looking information. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the factors discussed in GWL’s and Loblaw’s respective current Annual MD&A and Annual Information Form and uncertainty related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. GWL and Loblaw do not undertake any obligation to update such forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as expressly required by applicable law. All forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of the date hereof and are qualified by these cautionary statements.
SOURCE George Weston Limited
For further information: Tara Speers, Senior Director, Investor Relations, George Weston Limited (416-965-5506) or Roy MacDonald, Vice President, Investor Relations, Loblaw Companies Limited (905-459-2500)