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At Sobeys, Bill McEwan announces retirement


The head of Sobeys plans to retire later this year as he deals with an ongoing health problem.

Sobeys' parent Empire Company Ltd. said Wednesday that it has launched a succession plan for chief executive officer Bill McEwan, who anticipates his exit from the company early in its next fiscal year which starts on May 6.

``Our succession process has been designed to identify a successor who will continue to drive the company's food focused strategy forward,'' said Empire's chairman Rob Dexter.

``We will consider all suitable candidates and are fortunate to have very strong internal candidates.''

McEwan took the role of president and CEO in late 2000, and has navigated the company through an often challenging retail market that has face an onslaught of price wars and new competitors like Walmart superstores.

More recently, in December, the company announced plans to expand its gasoline retailing business with the purchase of 250 gas stations in Atlantic Canada and Quebec from Shell Canada.

McEwan was also instrumental in an agreement to supply U.S. retailer Target with frozen, dairy, and dry grocery products, including both national brands and Target's private label products starting early in 2013.

McEwan has worked in the grocery business most of his life, both on the retail side and the manufacturer side.

He began at the age of 15 working at Ferraro's Super Valu stores in British Columbia and spent 13 years with the company. Over his career he has held executive positions at Coca-Cola and A&P.

McEwan also has represented the Canadian grocery industry internationally, sitting on the global Consumer Goods Forum.

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