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Canada’s Loblaw Companies yesterday announced the resignation of its president, John Lederer, who also will step down from the company’s board of directors. He will be replaced by Mark Foote, who takes over as president and chief merchandising officer.

Reports in the Canadian media suggest that Lederer lost the confidence of the board as the chain suffered through a number of difficult quarterly reports.

In addition, the company announced that Galen G. Weston, the company’s senior vice-president of corporate development, will succeed his father W. Galen Weston as executive chairman of Loblaw Companies.

The appointments will "strengthen the leadership structure and give us the depth, breadth and experience that will take the company forward, and reflect the Weston family's commitment to the succession process," said W. Galen Weston in discussing the management changes.

Allan Leighton, a longtime advisor to the Weston family and the former chief of Wal-Mart’s European operations, is now deputy chairman of both Loblaw’s board and George Weston Limited, helping to steer the company through the transition.

"Allan's appointment and his other activities within the George Weston group of companies reflect our commitment to a leadership structure and a succession process that will take the Company forward," said W. Galen Weston. "He has compiled a proven record of service and success on boards of directors, as an executive in the food distribution industry, and as a senior manager in other businesses. He knows our company well. And we're confident that this background and his ongoing contribution will benefit the Company and all of its shareholders."

The Globe and Mail suggests that the changes could mean strategic shifts fore the retailer: “Under Mr. Lederer it was transforming itself into more of a low-cost discount grocer, increasingly branching out into non-food products. Service in stores slackened, and even the core food division suffered. Observers said the direction now seems fuzzy.”
KC's View:
Everything we’re hearing suggests that Loblaw will move quickly to establish very clearly where it is going, and to eliminate any concerns that it is strategically adrift.