Loblaw Companies Ltd. has begun a strategic review of roughly 17 different initiatives that were prioritized under the tenure of former president Sarah Davis.
After an executive shuffle that took effect in early May, Loblaw Companies Ltd. has begun a strategic review of roughly 17 different initiatives to narrow the company’s focus and to concentrate on what Loblaw chairman and president Galen Weston called “retail fundamentals.”
One example of the changes on the docket is Loblaw’s decision to get out of the meal kit business, shuttering its PC Chef line—which Weston said would take too much time and tens of millions of dollars of investment to make an impact on the business. In contrast, Loblaw will be directing more energy to improving the efficiency of its e-commerce business—such as reorganizing its order-picking teams to avoid wasted labour.
George Weston Ltd. president and chief financial officer Richard Dufresne, who in May expanded his role to return as Loblaw CFO, and retail veteran Robert Sawyer, who joined as COO, have also just completed a review of Loblaw’s store network, according to Weston. Some underperforming stores will be converted to a different format or closed, while the company is also evaluating opportunities to build new stores.
Grocery sales are expected to dip in the second half of the year, as vaccination rates increase across the country and shopping behaviour changes. Loblaw and other grocers have noted that store traffic is increasing, as customers who were restricting their outings last year, have begun to shop more often and buy less during each trip.
According to research firm Nielsen, sales of “fast-moving consumer goods”—including packaged goods, health and beauty products and many grocery items—fell by 3 per cent in the 13 weeks ended July 17 compared with the same period the year before. The biggest sales declines were in fresh foods such as produce, meat and seafood; and non-grocery items such as paper goods and household cleaners.
Grocers are also expecting that customers who sought out conventional stores for one-stop-shopping during the pandemic will return to discount grocery stores.