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Chief executive of Sobeys steps down

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STELLARTON, Nova Scotia  — Marc Poulin has left his posts as president and chief executive officer of Sobeys Inc. and the Canadian food and drug retailer’s parent company, Empire Co.

His sudden departure, announced by Empire’s board on Friday, comes just over a week after Empire reported a $2.13 billion net loss for its 2016 financial year. The loss was mainly attributed to Sobeys’ difficulty in integrating its acquired Safeway operations in western Canada.

Marc Poulin

Marc Poulin

François Vimard, Empire’s chief financial and administrative officer, will serve as interim president and CEO of the company. Vimard will also replace Poulin on Empire’s board.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Marc for his efforts and leadership as CEO over the past four years and, prior to that, for the important role he played in developing our Quebec business,” Empire chairman Rob Dexter said in a statement. “The board of directors is unanimous in its support of François Vimard’s leadership as we undertake this succession process.”

Dexter said the board remains confident in the company’s overall strategy, despite the challenges it has faced in the past year.

“It is our clear expectation that François and his strong and experienced leadership team will prioritize and advance the most critical elements of the company’s strategy to ensure we meet the needs and expectations of our customers and see the return of long-term profitable growth for the company,” Dexter said.

Vimard, who joined Sobeys in 1995, has more than 30 years of experience in the food retailing business, the company said.

Empire executive vice president of finance Clinton Keay will assume the role of interim chief financial officer.

Poulin joined Sobeys in 1997. He was named president and CEO of Sobeys in 2012 and took on the same roles at Empire in 2013, shortly after the company acquired Safeway Canada for $5.8 billion (Canadian).

Sobeys also is the parent company of the Lawtons Drugs pharmacy chain, which has 78 locations in Atlantic Canada.


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