(Adds details, background, forecast, analyst comment, shares)
By Shubhankar Chakravorty
July 17 Loblaw Cos Ltd, Canada's largest
grocer, appointed Executive Chairman Galen Weston president as
part of a management shakeup aimed at helping the company better
compete with U.S. rivals.
Weston, son of the founder of George Weston Ltd - Loblaw's
largest shareholder - will be responsible for the company's
overall business performance as president, the company said.
Weston replaces Vicente Trius with immediate effect. Trius
is leaving the company for family reasons.
Loblaw has been struggling with higher fuel costs, a weak
Canadian dollar and an increase in minimum wages in Ontario,
while trying to fend off competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc
and Target Corp.
The company, which completed the acquisition of Shoppers
Drug Mart earlier this year, also said Domenic Pilla,
the president of its pharmacy chain, would leave by the end of
Mike Motz, Loblaw's current chief merchandising officer and
executive vice president, will replace Pilla.
"Our two businesses (Loblaw, Shoppers Drug Mart) 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,"
Weston said in a statement.
The company will consolidate the results of Shoppers Drug
Mart for the first time when it reports second-quarter results
Loblaw said it expects strong same store sales growth in its
supermarket and pharmacy businesses in the quarter.
Analysts at National Bank Financial (NBF) had estimated
growth of 1.3 percent in Loblaw retail same store sales,
compared with 1.1 percent a year earlier.
The Brampton, Ontario-based company also appointed a new
chief financial officer on Thursday.
Richard Dufresne will take on the role of CFO of Loblaw in
addition to his current role of CFO at George Weston, which
holds a more than 45 percent stake in Loblaw.
Current Loblaw CFO Sarah Davis would become chief
administrative officer, the company said.
Loblaw shares closed at C$49.28 on the Toronto Stock
exchange on Wednesday.
(Reporting By Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bangalore; Editing by
Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Simon Jennings)