TORONTO — Allan Leighton, the newly named president of Loblaw Cos. here, in a conference call yesterday unveiled adjustments to the retailer’s ongoing turnaround he said would “signal the ramping up of our recovery program, and add clarity, focus and inject much-required pace to the process.” Leighton, the deputy chairman who was named president of Loblaw in a management shakeup last week, said the retailer will focus on enhancing food and service at conventional stores in Ontario based on the success of its “Great Food” pilots, ramp up refurbishments at Superstore in Western Canada, and convert about 20 Extra Foods conventional stores to the No-Frills discount banner. He also said the company will focus on simplifying its distribution systems and processes and on re-establishing its President’s Choice private label in time for a “massive” 25th anniversary. Leighton made his remarks in a conference call discussing results for the first quarter, which ended March 22. Net earnings improved by 14.8% to $61.2 million (U.S.) but when adjusted for restructuring costs and other items would have been down by around 25%, the company said. Sales increased 2.8% to $6.4 billion, and same-store sales were up 2.8%, but they were boosted by the shift of the Easter holiday this year to the first quarter.
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