George Weston Ltd (or GWL) became Canada's biggest retail group in 2014 as a result of the merger of its main part-public subsidiary Loblaws supermarkets with pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart. Loblaw was already Canada's biggest supermarket retailer, with more than 1,050 owned or franchised stores under the Loblaw brand or local discounter banners including No Frills, Provigo, Real Canadian Superstore and others. The group's private label range President's Choice (or "PC") is one of Canada's best-known brands covering everything from foods to household goods, home & garden products, financial services and insurance. It also offers online ordering and delivery under the PC Express banner. Other own label brands include value-priced No Name and fashion label Joe Fresh. In 2013, Loblaw agreed to acquire leading pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart. That deal added more than 1,300 Shoppers and Pharmaprix drugstores across Canada as well as a number of branded healthcare clinics and private label health and wellness brand Life. Separately, Weston is also one of Canada's largest bakery businesses with brands including Wonder Bread, Ace Bakery, D'Italiano and Country Harvest. However this business was put up for sale in 2021. A third division, Choice Properties, manages a large real estate portfolio of retail and office properties. The group is controlled by the Weston family, who also have extensive interests in the UK, including food and fashion giant Associated British Foods and upmarket retailers Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason. Weston's combined sales in 2019 topped C$50bn for the first time though net earnings fell to just C$198m as a result of one-off charges associated with a restructuring of the real estate business. The Loblaw retail division accounted for more than 95% of revenues and 85% of profits. Galen G Weston is chairman & CEO. His great-grandfather George Weston opened a bakery business in Toronto in 1882, laying the foundations for the widespread global empire established by his son Garfield Weston. TP Loblaw opened his first Loblaw Groceteria in Toronto in 1919, and had 150 stores by the time of his death in 1933. Garfield Weston acquired a controlling stake in the 1950s.
Capsule checked 22nd June 2020
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Adbrands Social Media 7th Jan 2019: "Eat Together 2019: Dream of Life". WPP's Canadian agency John St has been running different variations on the Eat Together concept for the past three years for President's Choice, the own-brand banner of local supermarket giant Loblaw. It's a great message, and at least two of those ads have ended up as minor classics in their own right. For the new edition, the agency secured permission to use the widely celebrated 'Dream of Life' speech by the British-American philosopher Alan Watts. Rather like Paul Harvey's 'God Made A Farmer' speech used in Ram Trucks' 2013 Super Bowl campaign, a well-selected piece of "found audio" can elevate the right images into something profound. Though he died in 1973, many of Watts' ideas are as uplifting and inspiring today as they were in the late 1960s. In the past few days, some online critics have decried the "commercialisation" of Watts' philosophy to sell supermarket food, but we might argue that anything that spreads those words, especially 50 years after they were originally spoken, can only be a good thing.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jul 2013: In Canada, leading supermarket group Loblaw acquired the country's biggest pharmacy retailer Shoppers Drug Mart for around $11.9bn. The resulting company becomes Canada's biggest business by revenues with sales in excess of $42bn and more than 2,240 stores nationwide. The Canadian media was almost unanimously positive about the move, which creates a strong national champion to counter the relentless expansion of Walmart, Costco, Target and other US invaders. Last month, Loblaw's main homegrown rival Sobey's snapped up the US operations of Safeway for $5.8bn. Loblaw is controlled by the enterprising Weston family, whose various other interests include George Weston Foods of Canada, the UK's Associated British Foods and its fashion retail subsidiary Primark, as well as upscale department stores Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.
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