Sandra Sanderson joins Sobeys

The former Walmart Canada CMO takes over marketing as the grocer continues its transformation plan.

Sobeys has found its new marketing leadership as the grocery retailer continues on its transformation plan.

As reported yesterday in strategy’s C-suite, the grocery chain has hired Sandra Sanderson as SVP of marketing. She will oversee the marketing portfolio strategies across all Sobeys brands and banners – which also include IGA, FreshCo, Foodland and Safeway – with duties including brand stewardship, insights and analytics, loyalty and omni-channel integrated marketing. She’ll report directly to Michael Medline, president and CEO of Sobeys and its parent company Empire.

Sanderson is returning to Canada, having been SVP of marketing at U.S. fashion retailer White House Black Market since February 2017. Prior to that, she spent three years leading marketing efforts for Walmart Canada, a period that saw the retailer launch its food and grocery offering. She also spent five years as SVP of marketing at Shoppers Drug Mart, a job that included oversight of the Optimum loyalty program.

Sanderson’s appointment follows a number of executive changes the grocery retailer announced in June as part of a three-year transformation plan. Among those new roles were Lyne Castonguay as EVP of store experience, Pierre St-Laurent as EVP of merchandising and Quebec and Sarah Joyce as SVP of ecommerce.

Those appointments also came as Deirdre Horgan, SVP of marketing and ecommerce, left the company to focus on recovery from undisclosed health issues. Castonguay has been leading Sobey’s marketing in the interim while the search for a permanent marketing leader was conducted.

In September, Empire diversified its portfolio with the acquisition of Farm Boy, a popular and growing Ottawa-based grocery retailer described as a mix between U.S. chains Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

In the final quarter of 2017, Empire revealed “Project Sunrise,” a three-year transformation plan to simplify its organizational structure and cut costs after several lacklustre quarters. That transformation has included the conversion of several Safeway and Sobey’s stores to its discount FreshCo banner to take advantage of higher growth in the discount space. In the company’s most recent quarterly results, released in September, Empire reported a same-store sales increase of 1.3% (excluding fuel) and profits of $95.6 million, up from $54 million the year prior.