Loblaw Makes Top Exec Moves

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Loblaw Makes Top Exec Moves

Loblaw Cos., Ltd., has made a series of surprise executive changes, with exits and entrances that the Canadian business press is calling a "shakeup" driven by tough competition.

The most prominent: Allan Leighton will become president, in addition to continuing to serve as deputy chairman of the company. Before joining Loblaw, Leighton was group marketing director and c.e.o. at U.K. retailer ASDA from 1992 to 2000, where he was credited with turning business around, and in November 1999 became president and c.e.o. of Wal-Mart Europe.

Bob Vaux, c.f.o. of George Weston, Ltd., the parent company of Loblaw, since May 2007, will also serve as interim c.f.o. of Loblaw until further notice.

Former c.f.o. William "Bill" Wells left the company yesterday to become the c.e.o. of Toronto biopharmaceutical company Biovail, where he already serves as an outside director.

E.v.p. general merchandise Frank Rocchetti will replace Mark Foote as the chief merchandising officer, reporting to Leighton. Foote left the company yesterday.

E.v.p. food Pietro Satriano has also left the grocer, effective yesterday.

Brampton, Ont.-based Loblaw has recently reduced its prices to keep pace with Wal-Mart in its markets. The company has also begun revamping its supply chain, shuttering some locations, and eliminating 1,000 positions as ways to improve performance.

"At this crucial juncture, we require more focus and clarity in our leadership structure," said Leighton in a statement. "These changes will provide this."

In other Loblaw news, the grocer's PC GREEN brand this month rolled out PC GREEN Phosphate-Free Automatic Dishwashing Detergent, which the company says can improve water quality.

The product is the first retail-branded phosphate-free, chlorine-free automatic dishwasher detergent, according to Loblaw, which added that the detergent has arrived in its stores ahead of the Canadian federal government's recent proposed limit on phosphates from dishwasher and laundry detergents to 0.5 per cent by 2010. The item retails for CAN $5.99.

With over 140,000 full-time and part-time employees and over 1,000 coporate and franchised stores across Canada, Loblaw is that country's largest food distributor and a leading provider of general merchandise products, drugstore and financial products and services.