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Why is Loblaw's head stepping down? A Toronto-area expert explains

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Galen Weston is stepping down as the head of Loblaw Companies Ltd – a move one Toronto-area expert says, shouldn't come as a surprise.

Weston has held the position of Loblaw’s president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for two years, a job that was meant to be “transitory”, Marvin Ryder, professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at McMaster University, told NEWSTALK 1010 on Tuesday morning. In 2021, Weston took the top job when Sarah Davis retired as president.

News of the shuffle comes in the midst of a storm of Weston-centred criticism. It was revealed earlier this month that his compensation jumped 55 per cent to $8.4 million. Weston also appeared in front of a parliamentary hearing last month probing grocery chains’ profit-mongering.

Despite the bad press, Ryder said there is no correlation with the Tuesday announcement. “The timing is more accidental than anything else,” he said.

“This is a process that’s been going on since August of last year. That’s at least an eight-month process. Look at the person they are hiring – from a Danish retail chain – clearly they did a global search,” he said.

Denmark's leading grocery retail executive, Per Bank, will take Weston’s place in the day-to-day operations of the company in 2024. The appointment follows a “global talent search” in anticipation of Robert Sawyer’s planned retirement as Loblaw’s Chief Operating Officer at the end of the year, the grocery retailer said in a release on Tuesday.

Until then, Weston will remain in his current role, before he transitions back to his former position as chair of the board and CEO of Loblaw’s holding company George Weston Ltd.

“He added the Loblaw responsibilities and now he’s giving it back,” Ryder said.

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