Empire announces “aggressive” cost-cutting plan

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STELLARTON – A $500 million cost-cutting plan has been initiated by Empire Co. Ltd. in an effort to turn around its Sobeys grocery business.

The grocery retailer has been struggling to recover from the acquisition of Safeway Canada four years ago. The company says it’s aiming to hit its target by the end of its 2020 fiscal year, adding that the savings will come from a combination of measures including reductions to office staff.

CEO Michael Medline says he has an “aggressive goal” to overhaul Sobeys so that it becomes a leaner organization.

Empire has indicated the job cuts won’t affect frontline store workers nor staff at distribution centres. But the grocery operator announced changes in its upper ranks that include the retirement of executive vice-president Francois Vimard, who served as interim CEO before Medline arrived, and Sobeys Quebec president Yves Laverdiere. The president of the Atlantic-Ontario business unit for Sobeys, Beth Newlands Campbell, will also leave next month after 18 months with the company.

Headquartered in Stellarton,  Empire and its affiliates and subsidiaries employ about 125,000 people. Sobeys owns or franchises about 1,500 stores operating under the Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods and Lawston’s Drug Stores brands.

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