Sobeys realigns leadership team to bolster retail and ecommerce

CANADA – Sobeys Inc., the second largest food retailer in Canada has announced it has reshuffled and made new appointments to its senior management team at its supermarket and drugstore subsidiary.

The move is part of Sobey’s three-year transformation plan announced by the retailer’s president and CEO, Michael Medline to restructure its business in an initiative to cut on costs.

The new appointments include key operations and merchandising roles aimed at strengthening its e-commerce and discount retail leadership.

Sobeys has appointed Lyne Castonguay, former executive VP of merchandising as executive vice president of store experience mandated to oversee store operations, distribution centers and grocery banners.

In his former role, Castonguay was appraised for initiating the national merchandising structure, contributed to stabilization of margins and sales over the past year and also played a key role in forming the company’s partnership with U.K. grocery e-commerce specialist Ocado, according to the parent company, Empire Company Ltd.

Pierre St. Laurent has been named executive VP of merchandising and Quebec while Sarah Joyce will be joining Sobeys on June 26 as senior vice president of e-commerce with responsibility to direct Sobeys’ online strategy and oversee the company’s partnership with Ocado.

Sarah formerly worked at Hudson’s Bay Co., where she was general manager of SaksOff5th.com and Gilt.com.

The tie-up with Ocado will see Sobeys launch online grocery store by 2020 and build its first distribution centre in Greater Toronto Area to help drive its online shopping in Britain.

The restructuring, aimed at US$500 million in annual savings will see significant cuts to its costs as it centralizes management and reduces office staff.

“It has been a year of solid progress in rewiring the fundamentals of our business — stabilizing margins, creating a lower-cost national structure, and setting clear strategies in areas such as e-commerce and discount,” Empire and Sobeys President and CEO Michael Medline said in a statement.

“We are now sharpening our leadership focus as we rally the team for stronger growth.”

Other vital appointments include Luc L’Archeveque as general manager for Quebec, also retaining his duties as VP of grocery for the Quebec business; Mike Venton as general manager of discount with roles focused on the expansion of the discount business.

Venton succeeds Rob Adams whose efforts in growing discount as highlighted include conversion of up to 25% of Sobeys and Safeway locations in western Canada.

Sobeys also announced that Jason Potter, executive VP of operations and Deirdre Horgan, senior VP of marketing were leaving the company with reasons.

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