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Sobeys’ Vivek Sood takes new post at Empire Co.

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Promotion part of reorganization at Sobeys parent Empire

STELLARTON, Nova Scotia — Vivek Sood, pharmacy chief at Sobeys Inc., has been appointed executive vice president of related businesses at the Canadian food and drug retailer’s parent, Empire Co. Ltd.

In his new role, Sood will oversee the company’s pharmacy, wholesale, fuel, convenience and liquor businesses and report to Michael Medline, president and CEO of Empire. Most recently, Sood was general manager of the Sobeys National Pharmacy Group, which includes Sobeys supermarket pharmacies and Lawtons Drugs.

Vivek Sood_Sobeys_Lawtons_Empire Co.

Vivek Sood

Sood joined Sobeys in 2000 and served in various senior merchandising and finance roles with Sobeys and Empire. He later held in leadership positions in Lawtons Drugs, including as senior vice president, before being named to lead the drug chain as general manager in 2014 with the retirement of president and chief executive officer Rob Sobey.

Currently, Sood also chairs the board of the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, the country’s retail pharmacy trade group.

Sood’s appointment is part of a major reorganization at Empire that aims to yield $500 million in annualized cost savings by the end of the company’s 2020 fiscal year.

Empire said this week that the savings will come from consolidating multiple, independent regions into a mostly national, functionally driven structure; simplifying how the company works with vendors and leverages its buying scale as a $24 billion company; and boosting enterprisewide efficiency and productivity. The company said it had sketched out a comprehensive three-year plan for the transformation.

Other leadership appointments in the new structure include Jason Potter as executive vice president of operations, Lyne Castonguay as executive vice president of merchandising and Pierre St-Laurent as executive vice president of Quebec. Empire said Rob Adams will remain general manager for the discount format as the company assesses its future discount strategy. All will report to Medline.

In addition, Empire announced the retirements of executive vice president François Vimard, who had once served as interim president and CEO, and Yves Laverdière, president of the Quebec business unit. The company also said that Beth Newlands Campbell, president of the Atlantic/Ontario business unit, will leave the company in June.

“We have an aggressive goal to transform our organization, better serve our customers, empower our employees and assuredly move from defense to offense in the market. To do this, we need to unleash the talents and scale we already have at our disposal,” Medline said in a statement. “The future Sobeys will operate with a simpler, leaner structure, more efficient core processes and tools, and will better leverage its $24 billion national scale. This will free us up to be extremely nimble, thrill our customers and grow market share. Results of this transformation will take time, but we are committed to seeing them through given the compelling prize.”

Sobeys owns or franchises about 1,500 stores in all 10 provinces under the Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, and Lawtons Drugs banners, as well as more than 350 retail fuel locations.


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