His departure, announced by Empire’s board, came just days after Empire reported a $2.13 billion (Canadian) net loss for its 2016 financial year. The setback was mainly attributed to Sobeys’ difficulty in integrating its acquired Safeway operations in western Canada.
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, before that, the important role he played in developing our Quebec business,” Empire chairman Rob Dexter said in a statement. “The board is unanimous in its support of François Vimard’s leadership as we undertake this succession process.”
Dexter said the board of directors 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 that 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, according to the company.
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.
In other personnel news, Sobeys has selected a former Home Depot Inc. executive to assume the role of chief merchandising officer.
Lyne Castonguay has been chosen to oversee all aspects of the Canadian retailer’s go-to-market strategy. She has responsibility for category management, marketing, data insights, and private label and merchandising, as well management of the company’s digital strategy. Casonguay held a number of management positions in her 14-year career at Home Depot.