Galen G Weston named CPs Business Newsmaker of the Year for 2013

TORONTO — He’s been a familiar face to Canadians for years — approachable, friendly, and asking them to come shop at his family’s grocery stores.Behind the scenes, he also helped lead Loblaw’s restructuring efforts at a time of intense competition while pushing green, organic and fresh products.But it was his role in one of the biggest takeovers in the country’s retail history as well as his strong stance on the need for change in Bangladesh after the Dhaka factory collapse in April that won Galen G. Weston the title of Canadian Press Business Newsmaker of the Year for 2013.Weston received about 22% of the votes, followed by BCE chief executive George Cope and former Blackberry CEO Thorstein Heins, who tied for second place with 17% of the votes each.“It’s not just one of the largest deals this year — it’s one of the largest deals in Canada ever,” Derek DeCloet, Editor of Report on Business at The Globe and Mail, said in voting for Weston.“It will shape the future of the Canadian retailing sector.”“Tough call here. I voted for Weston, being at the centre of not one, but two of the top business stories of the year,” said Adam Nyp, News Director at CIHR in Woodstock, Ont.It was a busy year for Weston, whose family regularly makes the list of richest Canadians with a fortune that tops $10 billion.Loblaw (TSX:L) moved to acquire Shoppers Drug Mart (TSX:SC) in a blockbuster $12.4-billion deal that will allow it to better compete against retail giants, such as Walmart, and provide cash flow of about $1 billion to pay down debt.The company said it wouldn’t be appropriate for Weston to comment to the media until the Shoppers deal closes. Shoppers’ shareholders recently voted in favour of the takeover offer and the deal is before the federal competition bureau for approval.During the summer, the company also spun off its real estate holdings into a new publicly traded trust, Choice Properties (TSX:CHP.UN), which remains majority owned by Loblaw.Since the drugstore deal, the company, which owns Loblaws, President’s Choice and several other grocery brands as well as the Joe Fresh clothing line, has said it remains focused on winning over customers with lower prices and a bigger selection of fresh foods.It’s not yet back to the point of growing its profits, as it struggles to draw in shoppers in an increasingly competitive retail environment that pits it against Sobeys and Metro, as well as U.S. retailers such as Walmart, Target and Costco. But the company has come a long way from where it was when the younger Weston took over from his father W. Galen Weston as executive chairman of Loblaw in 2006.“Loblaw stores were in a bit of disarray. He was new, they had distribution issues and they had strategy issues and they were turning over some senior personnel as they modified the distributions,” said Ken Hardy, a marketing professor emeritus at Western University’s Richard Ivey Business School.“He was so youthful to take over a major chain and there was this imminent threat of Walmart’s food empire moving north, so yes, I think there was some skepticism,” Hardy said.“But the board plugged in some good people and they went ahead and made the changes, so he had support.”Gord Nixon, chief executive of RBC and a Weston family friend, said the younger Galen and his team should be credited for their role in the restructuring of Loblaw during a time industry margins are shrinking.“I think the Shoppers Drug Mart deal certainly has the potential to be a real home run for them and give them the opportunity to shift their strategies to address some of the changes that are taking place in the marketplace,” said Nixon.“It’s been a transformational year all around given the two big transactions … and some of the progress the company has made in terms of addressing some of their cost issues and efficiency issues.”For several years Weston, whose family is Loblaw’s biggest shareholder, has helped personify the brand and differentiate it from competitors like Metro or Sobeys, which have no official spokespersons.Sobeys has more recently hired British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who bears a physical resemblance to Weston, as to promote its stores. He had previously done the same for Sainsbury’s, a U.K. grocery chain.Weston also positioned himself as a champion for healthy, organic and ethical food, with TV commercials that emphasized those product categories.Monica LaBarge, a marketing professor at Queen’s University, said Loblaw has continued the elder Weston’s philosophy of continuing innovation, but also reflects his son’s own perspective.“It’s an interesting evolution of the brand that is probably affected by him, who he is and the age that he is.”Weston was most visibly in the spotlight this year for his quick and upfront reaction to the collapse of a factory in Bangladesh that made Joe Fresh clothing.More than 1,100 people died when the eight-storey building collapsed in April. While one of the factories in the building produced items for Joe Fresh, numerous other clothing makers were also in the complex.“I’m troubled by the deafening silence from other apparel retailers on this,” Weston said at the time, as he promised to take steps to ensure the structural integrity of the factories.“There are many other retailers involved here and the way that we’re going to make lasting change in countries like Bangladesh — and the industry as a whole — is to act as an industry,” he said.The company has since moved ahead with short-term financial compensation plans for workers and dependents of the company that produced the Joe Fresh Style clothing, and has plans for long-term assistance.Hardy called Weston’s handling of the building collapse “enormously clever and apparently sincere.”“It just added coherence to the already progressive, green imagine. Now the caring humanitarian was added,” he said.“It strengthens the soft goods line, Joe Fresh, and it takes the edge off the critics.”Nixon said the way Weston put Loblaw front and centre in the wake of the collapse and tried to become part of the solution “speaks very well of Galen as an individual, shows good leadership.”“It’s not always easy as a CEO to make those calls, and often you have people telling you not to say things (or) be as out front,” said Nixon.“When I saw that, I was very impressed.” read more

Györ one step closer to Budapest after win over Larvik

← Previous Story Tomori, Verten and Szucsánszki stay in FTC! Next Story → Vive Targi Kielce to EHF CL TOP 16! One of the most anticipated rivalries in women’s club handball got another sequel today in Norway, as GyoriAudi ETO KC defeats Larvik 23:29 (13:18).Prior to the match, a ceremony was held in honor of the former coach of both teams and the Hungarian women’s national team, Karl Eric Bohn, who past away this weekend, aged 48.Larvik hosted arguably the best team in the world right now,in a very difficult situation as the Norwegian powerhouse had already lost an awaymatch in the group 2 against Krim Mercator (24:18).Despite the importance, the first half of this crucial match was a fairly one-sided affair for Gyor who got the early lead, forcing Ole Gustav Gjevik to call a time-out with tenminutes from the start of the match.Larvik was unable to respond to the attacking threat and solid defending from Gyor players coming from all areas of the court with the one-sided first half ends 13:18. The closest Norwegian team got was 16:18 four minutes into the second half, following a 3:0 series, courtesy ofLin JorrumSulland(3) who took up an old habit of shooting from the right-wing position. The commanding presence of Anita Gorbicz(8) was felt, as Gyor took their biggest lead of the game, 17:25 mid-way through the second half; with Bulatović(4), Loke(5)andAmorim(5) the main contributors to this great run. Larvik showed a lifeline with the only goal from the experienced Karolyn DyhreBreivang to seal the 6:2 run in their favor with the result 23:27 with ten minutes until the final whistle. This period was also married with mistakes from Gyor, who failed to find the net for 6 minutes as Larvik tried hard to get back into the match. It was ironically one of the Norwegians in the defending champion’s team who put an end to all doubts in this match Kartine Lunde, who kept a penalty from an othervise solid Nora Mork(4), and stopped Anja Hammerseng-Edin form adding to her tally of 4 goals at the very last minute of the match. Highest scorer for the home team was the experienced winger Riegelhuth Koren with 5, while of the best middle-backs in the world, Anita Gorbitz had a night to remember scoring 8 for the final score 23:29.This loss will further complicate things for the ambitious Scandinavian side, as Larvik players now find themselves bottom of the group with no points from two matches.Gyor,who is hotly tipped to be among the frontrunners for the trophy in Budapest, entered the match with highest ambition. A draw in their first match at home with Buducnost(23:23) was a wakeup call for the Hungarian side, and there were no excuses for missing out on two points again. Gyor will now take top of the Group2 with three points from two games, above Krim (2 pts.) who is to play an away match against Budućnost (1 pt.) on Sunday. TEXT: NEMANJA SAVIC Gyor handballLarvik HK read more