Loblaw makes senior leadership changes as parent company shifts focus to retail and real estate

Date : 23 March 2021

Stewart Samuel

Program Director - Canada

Loblaw is making a series of leadership changes as its parent company, George Weston Limited, launches a process to sell Weston Foods, to focus its efforts on its retail and real estate businesses.

Galen G Weston returns as president

The key change at Loblaw sees the retirement of president, Sarah Davis. She will be succeeded by executive chairman, Galen G Weston, who will become chairman and president in addition to his current role of chairman and CEO at George Weston Limited. He returns to a role he held from 2014 to 2017. He has remained the face of the company over this period and this move will ensure consistency in the strategy moving forward.

Sarah Davis’ legacy

Davis, who shared her plans for early retirement four years ago, has been with Loblaw for 14 years, holding increasingly senior roles, assuming the leadership of the business in 2017. She has overseen many of the key strategic initiatives which have enabled Loblaw to assume the position of strength it holds today as Canada’s leading retailer. This includes the expansion of its ecommerce business, its push into healthcare and the acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart, the development of its loyalty programme, PC Optimum, and the growth of its financial services division. She also spearheaded the increasing use of data and analytics in decision making across the business and led the retailer’s productivity-based initiatives, reducing costs by over $1bn.

Source: Loblaw

Robert Sawyer in as COO

Loblaw is also appointing Robert Sawyer as chief operating officer. He will have responsibility for the company’s retail divisions, supply chain, and procurement. He has extensive experience in the Canadian retail sector, including holding a similar position at Metro and serving as president and CEO at Rona, a home-improvement business.

Richard Dufresne returns as CFO

The retailer also sees George Weston’s president and CFO, Richard Dufresne, expand his responsibilities to include becoming CFO of Loblaw. He also previously held this role from 2014 to 2017. With George Weston divesting its bakery business, he has the capacity to return to the dual CFO role. As part of this transition, Loblaw’s current CFO, Darren Myers, will leave the business. All role changes are effective May 6, 2021.

Sale aims to unlock Weston Foods’ potential

The decision to sell Weston Foods follows a strategic review of the George Weston’s business. It remains a small part of the company’s overall value, and its Board views a sale as offering the best opportunity to unlock its growth potential. Commenting on the sale, Galen G Weston said,

"Weston Foods has been at the core of our company for 139 years. It has a strong foundation, attractive and growing margins, a robust list of customers, strong brands, and a first-rate management team. As George Weston focuses its attention on Loblaw and Choice Properties, we are confident this is the right time to unlock the strategic growth potential that exists within Weston Foods through its sale."

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