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Loblaws CEO gets a major raise



Galen Weston took in $8.4 million in total compensation in the 2022 fiscal year in his role at the head of Loblaw Companies Ltd.

Meanwhile, Empire Company Ltd. CEO Michael Medline took in $8.7 million, while Metro Inc. CEO Eric La Fleche earned $5.4 million.

But Weston’s Loblaw compensation isn’t the full picture, as he is also head of the George Weston Ltd. holding company.

His total compensation reached $11.7 million in 2022, a nearly $1.1-million increase from the year before.


While Weston’s Loblaw compensation jumped significantly year over year, a 56 per cent increase compared with smaller increases received by his competitors, he was also promoted to the top leadership role midway through 2021, which means the two years aren’t directly comparable.

The proportion of Weston’s overall compensation from Loblaw versus the holding company shifted to 30 per cent from George Weston and 70 per cent from Loblaw as of May 6, 2021, compared with 60 per cent from George Weston and 40 per cent from Loblaw previously.

Weston’s total compensation from the two firms increased more than 11 per cent in 2022, while La Fleche’s went up seven per cent and Medline’s up 15 per cent.

It’s difficult to make a true apples-to-apples comparison of the three grocery executives’ compensation, said Eddington Ruiz, a senior consultant at Compensation Governance Partners. There are a few reasons for that, chief among them the fact that Weston holds two related but different roles.

In his dual role as head of the George Weston Ltd. holding company and its subsidiary Loblaw, made a total of $11.8 million in 2022 — a nearly $1.2-million increase from the year before. The figure includes his $8.4-million compensation from Loblaw.

More than half of that $8.4 million came from $4.8 million in share-based awards versus $2.5 million in 2021, as well as a $2.7-million annual bonus compared with $2.2 million a year earlier.

Share-based awards are a form of compensation that come as stock options or other equity-based compensation.

Shares of Loblaw closed at $125.91 Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange, up more than 9 per cent from a year ago and just shy of its 52-week high of $127.19. Two years ago, before Weston stepped into his current role, it was closer to $70.

Loblaw spokeswoman Catherine Thomas said its bonus structure “goes well beyond executives.”

“Recently, more than 40,000 Loblaw colleagues received bonuses as part of their total 2022 compensation. These reflect strong company performance and recognize individual contributions throughout the business,” she said in an email.

Ruiz noted that another complicating factor is the fact that as Canada’s biggest grocer, Loblaw is bigger than its competitors. This was highlighted in a compensation review done by Meridian Compensation Partners, which used a group of Canadian and U.S. retailers and other companies to determine where Weston’s compensation fell in comparison with his peers.

Meanwhile, Metro’s and Empire’s most recent reviews use smaller groups of only Canadian companies.

Another, more minor difference is the three companies’ different financial years, said Ruiz: Loblaw’s fiscal year ended Dec. 31, while Metro’s ended Sept. 24. and Empire’s on May 7.

Ruiz said of the companies on the TSX 60 that have disclosed their compensation plans for the 2023 fiscal year, more than half are not considering notable increases. Among those considering one, Ruiz said Weston’s aggregate base salary increase is probably going to be on the higher end. However, he said the full picture won’t be apparent until all those companies have released their circulars and a full comparison can be made.

The grocery chain heads have come under increasing scrutiny amid runaway food inflation, telling a parliamentary committee last month that higher prices were not caused by profit-mongering and that their margins on food sales have remained low.

Statistics Canada data shows grocery prices rose 9.8 per cent last year, and 10.6 per cent year over year in February — more than double Canada’s inflation rate.

All three grocers raked in higher profits in the first half of 2022 compared with their average performance over the past five years, according to a report last fall by the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. But Weston told MPs that Loblaw has made bigger profits off financial services, apparel and pharmacy, and said food prices have increased about 25 times faster than Loblaw’s profit margins on food products.

MPs grilled the CEOs at the March 8 committee hearing on food inflation, with Weston in particular taking heat from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who repeatedly asked him, “How much profit is too much profit?”

Later in March, Walmart Canada CEO Gonzalo Gebara appeared before the same House of Commons committee with a similar message. Pierre Riel, Costco’s senior vice-president and country manager for Canada, is scheduled to appear before the agriculture committee on April 17.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2023.


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Lululemon shares surge as consumers snap up pricier athletic wear



By Savyata Mishra

(Reuters) – Shares of Lululemon Athletica Inc soared 15% in early trade on Friday, after the premium apparel retailer defied investor worries with a full-year outlook lift amid little pullback from consumers and a sharp rebound in China sales.

The rosy outlook comes in contrast to the general trend of U.S. retailers ranging from Macy’s to Dollar General warning of weak discretionary spending by American consumers.

At least 11 brokerages raised price targets on the company, with Piper Sandler hiking by the highest margin to $445, above the median of $424.


“We think (Lululemon) is one of the select brands continuing to drive outsized demand in this more challenging macro environment with innovation and newness,” said Abbie Zvejnieks, analyst at Piper Sandler.

Lululemon’s first-quarter results also beat estimates as the company saw traffic across both its stores and online go up about 30%.

“Lululemon’s stores continue to be a key catalyst for customer retention and acquisition,” analysts at TD Cowen wrote in a note.

The company also reported a 79% rise in sales in China, bolstered by the rollback of COVID restrictions. Lululemon’s exposure to China could be “a solid source of sales and margin upside for the rest of the year,” analysts at Barclays wrote in a note.

A loyal customer base has also given the company a leg up, helping it sell more of its popular products, such as the Align high-rise yoga pants which retails between $98 and $118, at full price, even amid an uncertain economy.

“Lululemon is just very popular right now and seems to be immune from the slowing trend,” David Swartz, an analyst at Morningstar Research said.

The company’s strong results also lifted shares of other athletic wear makers including Nike Inc and Athleta owner Gap Inc by 4% and 3%, respectively. Shares of European sportswear companies Adidas and Puma were also up.

(Reporting by Savyata Mishra and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)



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OPEC Discussing 1 Million Bpd Output Cut




Oil prices were trading up on Friday afternoon as shorters got a little nervous heading into the OPEC+ weekend, with new rumors circulating about the group’s discussions about another 1 million bpd in production cuts.

The OPEC+ group is scheduled for three separate meetings beginning this weekend and concluding on June 4. While the general sentiment has been that the group will keep the status quo as far as production targets are concerned. But Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister has made boistrous threats against oil’s speculators in the runup to the meeting, saying that shorters will be “ouching”.


On Thursday, Reuters suggested that the OPEC+ group would be unlikely to deepen its production targets at the meeting this weekend. But late on Friday, Reuters suggested that OPEC+ was indeed discussing an additional output cut of around 1 million barrels “among possible options” for the meeting on June 4.

Crude oil prices were already trading up ahead of the meeting, but increased even more in the afternoon hours, bringing Brent crude to $76.32 at 4:20 p.m., a $2.06 per barrel increase on the day. WTI was trading at $71.90 per barrel at that time.

The OPEC meeting will begin at 1 pm Vienna time tomorrow, with OPEC+ meeting on Sunday.

The latest price hike could prompt OPEC+ to keep production targets the same. But Saudi Arabia appears to still be in control of OPEC+, and he could decide to make good on his threats to punish short sellers for their speculative trades that fly in the face of market fundamentals.

“I keep advising them (referencing oil speculators) that they will be ouching, they did ouch in April, I don’t have to show my cards. I am not a poker player…but I would just tell them watch out,” Saudi’s energy minister said late last month in the runup to the meeting.

By Julianne Geiger for

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Air Canada should face more consequences after two disruptions in a week, consumer advocate says



An airline consumer advocate says Air Canada should face tougher consequences for stranding passengers after two disruptions in a week.

Gábor Lukács, president of Air Passenger Rights, said Canadian airlines such as Air Canada currently don’t face enough consequences from the government each time they delay or cancel a flight.

“It feels like the airlines just have a free pass,” Lukasc told in an interview Friday.

Air Canada’s operations were jolted not once but twice in a span of seven days, impacting over 670 flights combined. On May 25, 241 Air Canada flights were delayed, and 19 were cancelled. This past Thursday, 362 flights were delayed and 48 cancelled, according to tracking service


Air Canada said the recently implemented system used to communicate with aircraft and monitor the performance of its operations was having technical problems.

In a statement to yesterday, the airline confirmed that both incidents occurred in the same system but were unrelated.

Currently, a traveller is entitled to between $125 and $1,000 in compensation for delays up to three hours or more, unless the disruption is a result of events beyond the airline’s control.

However, Lukács said he believes Air Canada is gatekeeping what really happened so they don’t have to pay passengers compensation.

“I’m confident that this is within the airline’s control,” Lukasc said.

The federal government has plans to strengthen the Air Passenger Protection Regulations. The proposed policy amendments would increase the maximum penalty for airline violations to $250,000, and hold airlines to regulatory costs of complaints.

Air Canada said no one was available for an interview on Friday.

By Friday afternoon, the Montreal-based airline told through an email statement the communicator system was stabilized and “it is functioning normally.”

However, “due to the effects of Thursday’s IT issues on our schedule, some flights may be delayed this morning as we reposition aircraft and crew,” Air Canada said.

There were 164 Air Canada flights, or 30 per cent of the airline’s scheduled load, had been delayed Friday as of 6:00 p.m. EDT, along with 36 cancellations, as seen on FlightAware.

Additionally, Air Canada Rouge had 62 flights delayed and 25 cancellations.

“That’s absurd, especially for a massive huge airline like Air Canada,” said Lukács.

A spokesperson for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the ministry has been in touch with Air Canada since the situation began, but did not confirm whether the airline could face any consequences, including fines.

“We expect all air carriers, including Air Canada, to uphold their obligations to keep passengers safe and protect their rights, and ensure all delays and cancellations are mitigated as soon as possible,” Alghabra’s office said in an email statement sent to on Friday.



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