As Canada’s largest retailer, Loblaw has a vital role to play in helping Canadians by providing continued access to food and pharmacy products and services in almost every community nationwide. As an employer of more than 190,000 colleagues, Loblaw takes very seriously its role in providing a safe and secure work and shopping environment for its colleagues and the thousands of customers who visit its food stores and pharmacies every week.
“We are acutely aware of the important role that we can play in assisting Canadians through these difficult times,” said Galen Weston, Executive Chairman of Loblaw Companies Limited. “We are continuously making changes to our operations to meet these needs and doing our best to operate our businesses in a way that protects the safety of our colleagues and customers.”
Beginning in March, Canadians turned to grocery stores and pharmacies in record numbers. The result was a significant increase in sales, with demand for essential items up strongly while customers started to shift away from discretionary categories. As the severity of COVID-19 increased during the month, the company ramped up its investments in four areas:
· enhancing customer convenience by expanding online capabilities and increasing staffing in its stores;
· supporting its colleagues in its stores and distribution centers with temporary pay premiums and pay protection safeguards;
· securing operations, with more in-store cleaning and in-store security, introducing new ways to shop stores to promote social distancing and installing plexiglass barriers at checkouts;
· and providing financial support to our communities and customers by pledging financial support to food banks and community charities and offering personalized solutions for PC MasterCard customers who are experiencing financial hardship.
“These investments bring both increased benefits and costs, and they are making a positive difference in helping our customers and colleagues meet the enormous challenges of COVID-19,” continued Weston. “In light of the uncertainty about the duration and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian economy, we can expect the volatility in our business to continue. Shopping behaviors continue to evolve, as does the demand for the types of products and services we provide.”
In this context, it is difficult to predict with precision how Loblaw’s business will perform for the balance of the year relative to its previously published guidance. As a result, the company is withdrawing the 2020 Outlook contained in Loblaw’s Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the year ended Dec. 28, 2019. Loblaw expects to release its 2020 first quarter results on April 29.