George Weston Ltd. reported its fourth quarter profit rose compared with a year earlier, boosted by an improvement in its underlying business, increased ownership in Loblaw and a full year of direct ownership in Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust.
“George Weston's businesses performed well during the fourth quarter,” said Galen G. Weston, chairman and CEO of George Weston Limited. “Loblaw improved its sales trajectory, achieved its financial metrics and continued to invest in strategic growth areas. Choice Properties continued to deliver stable and consistent results, and Weston Foods demonstrated solid performance with its business having stabilized in 2019."
Loblaw sales in the fourth quarter of 2019 were $11,590 million, an increase of $372 million, or 3.3 per cent, compared to the same period in 2018, primarily driven by Retail. Retail sales increased by $345 million, or 3.1 per cent, compared to the same period in 2018 and included food retail sales of $7,960 million (2018 – $7,750 million) and drug retail sales of $3,361 million (2018 – $3,226 million).
In 2019, Loblaw opened 15 food and drug stores and closed six food and drug stores, resulting in a net increase in retail square footage of 0.4 million square feet or 0.6 per cent.
Weston Foods sales in the fourth quarter of 2019 were $522 million, an increase of $15 million, or 3.0 per cent, compared to the same period in 2018. Sales included the negative impact of foreign currency translation of approximately 0.2 per cent. Excluding the unfavourable impact of foreign currency translation, sales increased by 3.2 per cent. Sales were impacted by an increase in volumes and the combined positive impact of pricing and changes in sales mix, partially offset by the unfavourable impact of product rationalization.