Loblaw withdraws business outlook in light of COVID-19
April 13, 2020, Brampton, Ont. – Loblaw Companies Ltd. has provided an update on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are acutely aware of the important role that we can play in assisting Canadians through these difficult times,” Galen Weston, the company’s executive chairman, stated in a press release. “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, the company states, 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 colleagues in the stores and distribution centres 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 check outs; and
- providing financial support to 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,” said 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 behaviours continue to evolve, as does the demand for the types of products and services we provide.”
Weston said it will be 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 its 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, 2020.
Loblaw has more than 2,400 corporate, franchised and associate-owned locations and employs about 200,000 full- and part-time employees.