Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Galen G. Weston as CEO of Loblaw. He is the company’s president, as well as CEO and president of Loblaw’s parent company, George Weston Limited.
Loblaw Co. Ltd. announced Weston’s departure from the role on Tuesday morning.
Per Bank, currently the CEO of Salling Group A/S, the largest retailer in Denmark, will become president and CEO of Canada’s largest grocer in 2024.
The appointment follows a search launched in August in anticipation of Robert Sawyer’s retirement as chief operating officer of Loblaw, according to a release.
Weston became president in 2021 after the departure of Sarah Davis from the job. After leaving the role, Weston will remain chair of the board and continue to run Loblaw’s parent company, George Weston Limited, which is controlled by the Weston family.
Loblaw executives gave Bank a glowing endorsement during a call updating investors about the leadership transition on Tuesday morning.
Weston likened Salling Group’s position in Denmark to Loblaw’s in Canada, as a retailer that operates multiple brands including discount and supermarket grocery chains and holds an “outsized cultural and financial place inside his country.”
“That’s the case for Loblaw. We’re a big company in a small country that comes with different leadership challenges and opportunities,” he told investors on a call Tuesday.
Weston will step back, but not go far
Weston also said that Bank has “extensive experience working for a controlling family and understands what that relationship needs to be in order for a partnership to be successful.”
Though he said Bank’s hire will allow him to “step back from the day-to-day management of the business,” Weston suggested he will continue to be involved in Loblaw’s long-term direction.
“I’m not leaving. I’m stepping back into what I consider to be my natural role as the controlling shareholder,” he said.
Weston has played both spokesperson and corporate leader for Loblaws’ grocers, appearing in commercials and also defending the company’s profits recently in front of members of Parliament at committee.
Weston and other grocery executives have come under fire for their growing corporate profits amid rampant food inflation over the past year.
In response to questions from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh at a parliamentary committee last month, Weston defended Loblaw’s business as “reasonable profitability,” saying the company only makes $1 of profit per $25 spent on groceries at its stores.
Inflation at the grocery store has cooled slightly as of late, clocking in at 9.7 per cent in March, but remains more than double the headline rate of inflation for the month.
In late 2022, Loblaw announced a temporary price freeze on its in-house No Name brand products, which it said was aimed at helping Canadians cope with high inflation.