Empire makes executive changes as it continues to reshape business

As it enters the final phase of Project Sunrise, the Nova Scotia-based company continues to streamline its executive team

Empire has made leadership changes as it enters the final phase of its $500-million cost-cutting plan to turn around its Sobeys business by 2020.

The Stellarton, N.S.-based grocery company has streamlined operations including merchandising, operations and supply chain for its full-service grocery banners to create what it called a "truly national team."

The following changes have been made:

  • Pierre St-Laurent has been promoted from executive vice-president, merchandising and Quebec into the newly-created role of chief operating officer. He will oversee merchandising, retail operations and supply chain across the Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Thrifty Foods and Foodland banners.

  • Chief financial officer Michael Vels moves into an expanded role, overseeing Empire's information technology team.

  • Luc L'Archeveque, senior vice-president, merchandising and general manager, Quebec; and Lorne MacLean, senior vice-president, retail operations  join the executive committee.

The company also announced a search was underway for a head of innovation. The role 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," according to the press release. The head of innovation will report to Medline and the executive committee.

Additionally, Lyne Castonguay, EVP store experience, is leaving the company as part of a "planned transition." Castonguay joined Sobeys as chief merchandising officer in 2016 and played a significant role in the company's transformation. She has been credited with laying the foundation for the national merchandising structure, stabilizing margins and sales, and played a key role in forming the company’s Ocado e-commerce partnership.

"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 CEO, in a press release announcing the executive shuffle.

"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 execution and accelerate innovation for the long-term--all with the aim of thrilling our customers," he added.

The company’s transformation plan called Project Sunrise was introduced in 2017 and was intended to simplify the organizational structure, reduce costs and move past the struggles it endured following the acquisition and integration of Safeway in 2013.



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