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 on-line capabilities and increasing staffing in our stores; supporting our colleagues in our 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 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 Mr. 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."
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 December 28, 2019. Loblaw expects to release its 2020 first quarter results on April 29, 2020.
About Loblaw Companies Limited
Loblaw is Canada's food and pharmacy leader, and the nation's largest retailer. Loblaw provides Canadians with grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, financial services and wireless mobile products and services. With more than 2,400 corporate, franchised and Associate-owned locations, Loblaw, its franchisees and Associate-owners employ approximately 200,000 full- and part-time employees, making it one of Canada's largest private sector employers.
Loblaw's purpose – Live Life Well® – puts first the needs and well-being of Canadians who make one billion transactions annually in the Company's stores. Loblaw is positioned to meet and exceed those needs in many ways: convenient locations; more than 1,050 grocery stores that span the value spectrum from discount to specialty; full-service pharmacies at nearly 1,400 Shoppers Drug Mart® and Pharmaprix® locations and close to 500 Loblaw locations; PC Financial® services; affordable Joe Fresh® fashion and family apparel; and three of Canada's top-consumer brands in Life Brand, no name® and President's Choice.
This press release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities legislation, including with respect to the announced corporate actions taken and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which reflects Loblaw's current expectations regarding future events. Given this unprecedented period of uncertainty, there can be no assurance regarding: (a) the impact of COVID-19 on Loblaw's business, operations and performance, including its ability to meet or remain on track to meet or exceed its stated 2020 financial outlook, which has now been withdrawn; (b) Loblaw's ability to mitigate such impacts; (c) credit, market, currency, operational, and liquidity risks generally; and (d) other risks inherent to Loblaw's business and/or factors beyond its control which could have a material adverse effect on the Company.
Forward-looking information is based on a number of assumptions and is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond Loblaw's control that could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those that are disclosed in or implied by such forward-looking information. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the factors discussed in Loblaw's current Annual Information Form and uncertainty related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Loblaw does not undertake any obligation to update such forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as expressly required by applicable law. All forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of the date hereof and are qualified by these cautionary statements.
SOURCE Loblaw Companies Limited
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