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Empire Co. enters last phase of reorganization

Stellarton-based Empire Co. Ltd., parent company of the Sobeys Inc. grocery chain, has made changes to its executive committee as the food retailer enters the final phase of its Project Sunrise initiative.

“The heavy lifting of Project Sunrise is almost done and I couldn’t be happier with the exceptional progress the team continues to make. This is a significantly improved company from that of even a year ago,” Empire president and CEO Michael Medline said in a company news release.

“The time is right to set our sights on the next phase of growth, with leaders who will integrate and unify our efforts further, enhance execution and accelerate innovation for the long-term — all with the aim of thrilling our customers,” he said.

Empire’s key businesses are food retailing and related real estate.

With about $24.8 billion in annualized sales and $9.3 billion in assets, Empire and its subsidiaries, franchisees and affiliates employ about 125,000 people.

Pierre St-Laurent has been appointed to the newly created role of chief operating officer, full service, responsible for merchandising, retail operations and supply chain for all the company’s full-service and community stores, including Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Thrifty Foods and Foodland.

Luc L'Archeveque, senior vice president, merchandising and general manager, Quebec, and Lorne MacLean, senior vice president, retail operations have joined the executive committee.

The role of Michael Vels, Empire’s chief financial officer, is expanding to have the information technology team report to him.

Vels already has the real estate, indirect sourcing, and the enterprise project management office reporting to him.

Empire states that information technology will be focused on powering the next phase of growth and digital innovation for the company.

Empire is also searching for a new chief information officer who will drive the simplification and harmonization of technology.

The person choosen for the role will report to Vels and join the company’s executive committee.

Empire’s former head of technology and transformation management, Clinton Keay, became CFO of Crombie REIT on Wednesday.

The company is also looking for a head of innovation, who will report directly to CEO Medline and will also join the executive committee.

The innovation boss will assist business leaders in identifying, prioritizing, testing and rapidly assessing potential innovation initiatives and solutions.

As part of a planned transition, Lyne Castonguay, executive vice president of store experience, is leaving the company.

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