Loblaw Companies names new president

Former Carrefour director Vincente Trius will join the company in the second half of the year, replacing Allan Leighton. Given Trius' background, retail guru Maureen Atkinson says expect to see a focus on improving Loblaw's hypermarket business.

Loblaw Companies has announced that Spanish national Vincente Trius will be succeeding Allan Leighton as its president.

Leighton will step down later this year, returning to his previous capacity as advisor to the Weston family and deputy chairman of George Weston Limited. ‘We are in the final year of renewal and I am delighted that Vincente Trius will be my successor,’ said Leighton in a release.

‘Vincente is a high caliber executive committed to building the Loblaw business,’ said Galen Weston, executive chairman, Loblaw Companies. Trius will move to Canada in the next few months and join the company in the second half of the year. He brings with him extensive experience in the international retail business, joining Loblaw from European-based grocery giant Carrefour, where he held the position of director, Europe, and member of the executive board in charge of Belgium, Italy, Spain, Poland, Greece, Cyprus and Romania. Prior to that he was a senior executive at Walmart, holding the positions of VP, international operations, CEO, Brazil, CEO Asia, and executive VP and CEO for Latin America.

Retail guru Chris Lund, CEO of Perennial Design, whose expertise has been called upon by European and BRIC market retailers says, ‘This new change in the president’s role will bring to Loblaw Companies enhanced understanding of international operations as well as deeper format experience from various markets around the world.’

And that global format expertise honed at Carrefour is needed. “Loblaw has somebody who really has a bigger picture on how retail works and, particularly, how food works,” says Maureen Atkinson, senior partner, JC Williams Group. “The bigger part of [Carrefour’s] business is their hyerpmarkets and arguably Wal Mart is a hypermarket as well, so given that Loblaws has not really been able to get their hypermarkets to work it’s interesting – we may see some more focus on that.”

“Seeing Leighton go is not a surprise for us,” says Atkinson. “The way that some of the things I’ve read treated it was, ‘the results were bad so he’s going,’ but the reality was that he was there to do a job, and I don’t think the plan was ever for him to be in that position permanently.”  

As to the impact on the renewal agenda, Lund predicts ‘no one should expect core changes in vision and values from Loblaw. Both the senior management team, as well as Galen himself, remain the strategic and operational back-bone of the organisation. Galen has demonstrated a keen ability to bring talent into the organisation as he feels it is required to execute against the corporate strategy. I am sure this step is the latest example of that skill.’