George Weston Ltd. to sell Weston Foods bakery business

A George Weston Ltd. image is shown at the company's annual general meeting in Toronto on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

George Weston Ltd. is putting its Weston Foods bakery business up for sale in a move to focus on its retail and real estate operations.

The company said Tuesday that Weston Foods is only a small part of its business and that a sale represents the best opportunity to unlock its potential.

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The sale of the bakery business will leave George Weston with its majority stake in Loblaw Companies Ltd. and a large interest in Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust.

Galen G. Weston, George Weston’s chairman and chief executive, said Weston Foods has been at the core of the 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,” he said in a statement.

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“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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Weston Foods produces bread, rolls and other baked goods in Canada and the U.S. and had $2.1 billion in sales in 2020.

In connection with the sale, the company also announced the retirement of Loblaw president Sarah Davis, effective May 6.

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Davis will be succeeded by Galen G. Weston, who will return to his role as chairman and president at Loblaw in addition to his current job as chairman and CEO at George Weston.

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“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,” Galen G. Weston said.

The companies also announced that Robert Sawyer will join Loblaw as chief operating officer and that Richard Dufresne, president and chief financial officer of George Weston, will expand his responsibilities to include chief financial officer of Loblaw on May 6.

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