Loblaw Cos., a Canadian supermarket chain with stores located in the province of Ontario, is set to have a new face of company after the current one spent much of the last couple of months buried in media scrutiny.
Galen Weston will step down as president and will be replaced with Danish retail executive Per Bank. Right now, Bank is the CEO of Danish retail chain Salling Group A/S, which has a network of 1,700 grocery stores in three European countries.
When Weston took over for Sarah Davis back in 2021 the CEO position at Loblaw, headquartered in Brampton, Canada, was never filled. According to the company, Bank will take over this role while Weston will still serve as company board chair and will continue to be CEO of George Weston Ltd., a parent company of Loblaw.
In a call with financial analysts, Weston said he is going to take the time to figure out his natural role as a controlling shareholder.
Last month, Weston along with other grocery store CEOs was called to face Canadian lawmakers about the rising costs of food prices, and a couple of weeks ago the Loblaw front man was grilled over a 10% pay raise that amounted to $1.2 million. Consultant Meridian Compensation Partners, which was behind the pay increase, defended the boost, stating Weston’s total direct compensation was below the market median, and that much of the increase was due to the fact that the president started in mid-2021 and had the role for all of 2022.
Weston also was confronted by the media about the high price of chicken and olive oil at Loblaw stores, and a video went viral on social media showing Loblaw’s explanation about the premium poultry.
“These are examples of customers gravitating towards the higher priced items when there is a perfectly competitively priced chicken right next door,” Weston said. “We looked at our chicken prices across the entire enterprise and are very confident we are offering terrific value.”
Weston was pressed even further and was criticized by one reporter that chicken that high in price should not even make it out on the store floor. Weston was then asked if the company should absorb more of the cost.
“Chicken was at the right price in those stores available to customers,” he remarked. “So we are absolutely confident in that and will continue to make every effort that that is the case.”
Weston added the reason for the premium price of the chicken is because it is a specialty product.
Loblaw insists the leadership change has been in the works for quite some time, stating that “it comes after two years of superb performance at the company as it executed against a strategy anchored in retail excellence.”
Industry insiders believe Weston, who is part of a prominent family worth almost $9 billion, has not been the ideal face of the company at a time when families are struggling to put food on the table.
Do you think Weston resigned because he could not relate to the average family, or is it due to another reason? Let us know in the comments below or email SN Executive Editor Chloe Riley at [email protected].