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Executive shakeup at Sobeys

Empire Co. Ltd. together with its wholly owned subsidiary Sobeys Inc. announced changes to its executive committee as the company enters the final phase of its Sunrise transformation initiative and sets its sights on stronger execution, innovation and growth.sobey

“The heavy lifting of Project Sunrise is almost done and I couldn’t be happier with the exceptional progress the team continues to make. This is a significantly improved company from that of even a year ago,” said Michael Medline, president and chief executive officer. “The time is right to set our sights on the next phase of growth, with leaders who will integrate and unify our efforts further, enhance executionand accelerate innovation for the long-term — all with the aim of thrilling our customers.”

Effective immediately, Pierre St-Laurent is appointed to the newly created role of chief operating officer full service. St-Laurent assumes responsibility for merchandising, retail operations, and supply chain across the company’s full service and community banners, including Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Thrifty Foods and Foodland. This new role tightly aligns merchant teams with retail operations so that the company speaks even more clearly with one, national voice to customers and supplier partners. St-Laurent has been the exceptionally effective, results-oriented leader of the company’s Quebec business, the national chief merchant for the past year and adriving force behind the company’s category resets.

Empire is also expanding the role of Michael Vels, chief financial officer. Building on the significant progress that Vels has overseen in aligning the broad enterprise efforts to the company’s priorities, Empire’s information technology team will now report to the CFO. Vels has deep prior experience in technology, digital implementation and transformation, with a proven track record in driving improved business performance from information systems. Together with real estate, indirect sourcing, and the Enterprise project management office that currently report to Vels, information technology will be focused on powering the next phase of growth and digital innovation for the company.  

A new chief information officer, for whom a search is under way, will drive the simplification and  harmonization of technology tools that support an agile,  innovative company. The successful candidate will report to Vels and join the company’s executive committee.

As previously announced, Empire’s former head of technology and transformation management, Clinton Keay, became CFO of Crombie REIT on May 15. In addition to the preceding changes in the roles of leaders reporting to Medline, Empire announced that Luc L’Archeveque, senior vice president of merchandising and general manager of Quebec, and Lorne MacLean, senior vice president of retail operations, both of whom now report to St-Laurent, join the executive committee effective immediately.

A search is now under way for a head of innovation, who will report directly to Medline and who will also join the executive committee. While innovation is an integral accountability of all leaders at Empire, this role and function is designed to bring a laser-like focus to solutions with the greatest potential to drive growth, and accelerate those initiatives to fruition with optimal velocity.

As part of a planned transition, Lyne Castonguay, executive vice president of store experience, will leave Empire as she continues to pursue her career aspirations.