Press Releases

George Weston Limited Reports 2017 First Quarter Results and Announces a 3.4% Increase to Quarterly Common Share Dividend(2)

TORONTO, May 9, 2017 /CNW/ - George Weston Limited (TSX: WN) ("GWL" or the "Company") today announced its consolidated unaudited results for the 12 weeks ended March 25, 2017.

GWL's 2017 First Quarter Report to Shareholders has been filed with SEDAR and is available at sedar.com and in the Investor Centre section of the Company's website at weston.ca.

Galen Weston, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, George Weston Limited, commented that "George Weston Limited's results continue to reflect the successful execution of the strategic priorities by both of the Company's operating segments. Loblaw delivered solid results as it remained focused on delivering its financial plan in a highly competitive environment with continued pressures of healthcare reform. Weston Foods results were in line with expectations as it continued to invest in the business."

2017 FIRST QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS

(unaudited)

($ millions except where otherwise indicated)


12 Weeks Ended


For the periods ended as indicated

Mar. 25, 2017

Mar. 26, 2016

Change

Sales

$

10,800

$

10,800

—%

Operating income

$

510

$

457

11.6%

Adjusted EBITDA(1)

$

924

$

890

3.8%

Adjusted EBITDA margin(1)


8.6%


8.2%


Net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company

$

117

$

47

148.9%

Net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company

$

107

$

37

189.2%

Adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company(1)

$

183

$

168

8.9%

Diluted net earnings per common share ($)

$

0.83

$

0.29

186.2%

Adjusted diluted net earnings per common share(1) ($)

$

1.42

$

1.31

8.4%








 

CONSOLIDATED RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company increased by $70 million ($0.54 per common share) to $107 million ($0.83 per common share) in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. The increase was primarily due to an improvement in the underlying operating performance and the favourable year-over-year net impact of adjusting items, as described below.

  • The improvement in underlying operating performance was primarily due to:
    • the underlying operating performance of Loblaw Companies Limited's ("Loblaw") Retail segment;
    • the favourable impact of a decrease in depreciation and amortization; and
    • the favourable impact of a decrease in net interest expenses and other financing charges.
  • The favourable year-over-year net impact of adjusting items totaling $55 million ($0.43 per common share) was primarily due to:
    • a fair value adjustment of the forward sale agreement for 9.6 million Loblaw common shares of $47 million ($0.37 per common share); and
    • foreign currency translation of $8 million ($0.06 per common share).
  • Net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company also included the positive contribution from the increase in the Company's ownership interest in Loblaw, as a result of Loblaw's share repurchases.

Adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company(1) increased by $15 million ($0.11 per common share) to $183 million ($1.42 per common share) in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. The increase was due to improvements in underlying operating performance and the positive contribution from the increase in the Company's ownership interest in Loblaw as described above.

REPORTABLE OPERATING SEGMENTS

The Company has two reportable operating segments, Loblaw and Weston Foods. The Company also holds cash, short term investments and an interest in Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust ("Choice Properties") of 6%. Loblaw has three reportable operating segments: Retail, Financial Services and Choice Properties. Loblaw provides Canadians with grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, credit card services, insurance brokerage services, personal banking services, gift cards and telecommunication services. Loblaw also holds an 83% effective interest in Choice Properties, which owns, manages and develops well-located retail and other commercial real estate across Canada. The Weston Foods operating segment includes a leading fresh bakery business in Canada and frozen, artisan bakery and biscuit businesses throughout North America.

Weston Foods Segment Results 

(unaudited)

For the periods ended as indicated




12 Weeks Ended


($ millions except where otherwise indicated)

Mar. 25, 2017

Mar. 26, 2016

Change

Sales

$

539

$

562

(4.1)%

Operating income

$

23

$

34

(32.4)%

Adjusted EBITDA(1)

$

61

$

63

(3.2)%

Adjusted EBITDA margin(1)


11.3%


11.2%


Depreciation and amortization(i)

$

24

$

27

(11.1)%







(i)  

Depreciation and amortization in the first quarter of 2016 includes $6 million of accelerated depreciation related to restructuring and other charges.

 

Sales  Weston Foods sales in the first quarter of 2017 were $539 million, a decrease of $23 million, or 4.1%, compared to the same period in 2016. Sales included the negative impact of foreign currency translation of approximately 2.5%. Excluding the unfavourable impacts of foreign currency translation and the timing of New Year's Day and Easter, sales decreased by 0.6% due to the combined negative impact of pricing and changes in sales mix, partially offset by an increase in volumes.

Operating income  Weston Foods operating income in the first quarter of 2017 was $23 million, a decrease of $11 million, or 32.4% compared to the same period in 2016. The decrease was primarily due to the decline in underlying operating performance, the unfavourable year-over-year net impact of the fair value adjustment of derivatives of $6 million, partially offset by the favourable impact of depreciation and amortization, as described below.

Adjusted EBITDA(1)  Weston Foods adjusted EBITDA(1) in the first quarter of 2017 was $61 million, a decrease of $2 million, or 3.2%, compared to the same period in 2016. The decrease was driven by a decrease in sales and continued investments in the business, partially offset by productivity improvements.

Weston Foods adjusted EBITDA margin(1) in the first quarter of 2017 improved slightly to 11.3% compared to 11.2% in the same period in 2016. The improvement in adjusted EBITDA margin(1) was mainly due to productivity improvements.

Depreciation and Amortization  Weston Foods depreciation and amortization was $24 million in the first quarter of 2017, a decrease of $3 million, or 11.1% compared to the same period in 2016. Depreciation and amortization included $6 million of accelerated depreciation recorded in the first quarter of 2016 related to the planned closures of pie and cake manufacturing facilities. Excluding these amounts, depreciation and amortization increased by $3 million in the first quarter of 2017 due to investments in capital.

Weston Foods Other Business Matters

Restructuring  Weston Foods continuously evaluates strategic and cost reduction initiatives related to its manufacturing assets, distribution networks and administrative infrastructure with the objective to streamline operations and to ensure a low cost operating structure. In the first quarter of 2017, Weston Foods recorded restructuring and other charges of $9 million (2016 – $9 million). These charges primarily relate to employee related costs and restructuring plans related to previously closed manufacturing facilities in Canada and the U.S. with production transferring to other facilities. Restructuring and other charges included $6 million of accelerated depreciation recorded in the first quarter of 2016.

Loblaw Segment Results

(unaudited)

($ millions except where otherwise indicated)




12 Weeks Ended

Change

For the periods ended as indicated

Mar. 25, 2017

Mar. 26, 2016

Sales

$

10,401

$

10,381

0.2%

Operating income

$

490

$

434

12.9%

Adjusted EBITDA(1)

$

863

$

827

4.4%

Adjusted EBITDA margin(1)


8.3%


8.0%


Depreciation and amortization(i)

$

360

$

368

(2.2)%







(i)  

Depreciation and amortization in the first quarter of 2017 includes $121 million (2016 – $124 million) of amortization of intangible assets acquired with Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation ("Shoppers Drug Mart").

 

Sales, operating income and adjusted EBITDA(1) in the first quarter of 2017 included the impacts of the consolidation of franchises, as set out in "Loblaw Other Business Matters".

Sales  Loblaw sales in the first quarter of 2017 were $10,401 million, an increase of $20 million compared to the same period in 2016, primarily driven by Retail. Retail sales increased by $12 million, or 0.1%, compared to the same period in 2016 and included food retail sales of $7,393 million (2016 – $7,390 million) and drug retail sales of $2,773 million (2016 – $2,764 million).

Excluding the consolidation of franchises, Retail sales decreased by $65 million primarily driven by the following factors:

  • food retail same-store sales decline was 1.2%. Food retail same-store sales reflect the impact of retail promotional investments and were relatively flat excluding the unfavourable impacts of the timing of New Year's Day and Easter. Loblaw's food retail average quarterly internal food price index declined and was relatively flat compared to the average quarterly national food price deflation of 3.9% as measured by "The Consumer Price Index for Food Purchased from Stores" ("CPI"). CPI does not necessarily reflect the effect of inflation on the specific mix of goods sold in Loblaw stores;
  • drug retail same-store sales growth was 0.9%, including same-store pharmacy sales growth of 1.3% and same-store front store sales growth of 0.6%. Excluding the unfavourable impacts of the timing of New Year's Day and Easter, drug retail same-store sales growth was approximately 2.5%; and
  • in the last 12 months, Retail net square footage increased by 0.3 million square feet, or 0.4%.

Operating Income Loblaw operating income in the first quarter of 2017 was $490 million, an increase of $56 million compared to the same period in 2016, primarily driven by the improvements in underlying operating performance of $41 million and the favourable year-over-year net impact of certain adjusting items totaling $15 million, as described below:

  • the improvements in underlying operating performance of $41 million were primarily driven by Retail and included lower selling, general and administrative expenses ("SG&A"), lower depreciation and amortization, stable gross margins despite the unfavourable impacts of the timing of New Year's Day and Easter on sales and the favourable impact from the consolidation of franchises; and
  • the favourable year-over-year net impact of certain Retail adjusting items totaling $15 million which included the impact of a prior year land transfer tax assessment of $10 million.

Adjusted EBITDA(1)  Loblaw adjusted EBITDA(1) in the first quarter of 2017 was $863 million, an increase of $36 million compared to the same period in 2016, primarily driven by Retail. Retail adjusted EBITDA(1) increased $31 million driven by an increase in gross profit, partially offset by an increase in SG&A.

  • Retail gross profit percentage was 28.0% compared to 27.3% in the same period in 2016. Excluding the consolidation of franchises, Retail gross profit percentage was 27.0%, an increase of 10 basis points compared to the first quarter of 2016, primarily driven by drug retail margins and partially offset by the impact of food retail promotional investments.
  • Retail SG&A as a percentage of sales was 20.0%, an increase of 40 basis points compared to the first quarter of 2016. Excluding the consolidation of franchises, Retail SG&A decreased by $31 million and as a percentage of sales was 19.0%, an improvement of 10 basis points compared to the first quarter of 2016, driven by the following factors:
    • the positive impact of store closures and divestitures effective in the second quarter of 2016; and
    • favourable changes in the value of Loblaw's investments in its franchise business;

partially offset by,

    • the unfavourable impacts of the timing of New Year's Day and Easter in both food and drug retail.

Depreciation and Amortization  Loblaw's depreciation and amortization was $360 million in the first quarter of 2017, a decrease of $8 million compared to the same period in 2016, primarily due to a change in the estimated useful life of certain equipment and fixtures in the second quarter of 2016, partially offset by an increase in depreciation from the consolidation of franchises. Depreciation and amortization in the first quarter of 2017 included $121 million (2016 – $124 million) of amortization of intangible assets acquired with Shoppers Drug Mart.

Loblaw Other Business Matters

Gas Bar Network  Subsequent to the end of the first quarter, Loblaw entered into an agreement with Brookfield Business Partners L.P. ("Brookfield") to sell its gas bar operations for approximately $540 million. Closing of the transaction is subject to Competition Bureau approval and other customary closing conditions and is expected to occur in the third quarter of 2017. As a result of the transaction, Brookfield will become a strategic partner to Loblaw and will continue to offer Loblaw's PC Plus loyalty program at the gas bars. In addition, Brookfield will be rebranding the gas station portfolio to the Mobil fuel brand, which will mark the introduction of the Mobil fuel brand to Canada. Loblaw has included $78 million of fixed assets and $11 million of inventory, related to the gas bar operations, as assets held for sale. In addition, Loblaw has classified $49 million of related accounts payable and accrued liabilities that will be assumed by the purchaser as liabilities held for sale. No impairment or other charges were recognized on the net assets of the gas bar operations. In 2016, the gas bar operations sold approximately 1,700 million litres of gas and contributed approximately $1,500 million to sales. After taking into account the loss of the earnings associated with the gas bar operations and the ongoing commitment of Loblaw to fund certain loyalty program costs, the expected annual impact to adjusted EBITDA(1) will be approximately $80 million, based on 2016 information.

Consolidation of Franchises  Loblaw has more than 500 franchise food retail stores in its network. As at the end of the first quarter of 2017, 225 of these stores were consolidated for accounting purposes under a new, simplified franchise agreement ("Franchise Agreement") implemented in 2015.

Loblaw will convert franchises to the Franchise Agreement as existing agreements expire, at the end of which all franchises will be consolidated. The following table presents the number of franchises consolidated in the first quarter of 2017 and the total impact of the consolidation of franchises included in the consolidated results of the Company.

(unaudited)

($ millions)


12 Weeks Ended

For the periods ended as indicated

Mar. 25, 2017

Mar. 26, 2016

Number of Consolidated Franchise stores, beginning of period

200

85

Add: Net Number of Consolidated Franchise stores in the period

25

30

Number of Consolidated Franchise stores, end of period

225

115

Sales

$

141

$

64

Operating loss

(2)

(10)

Adjusted EBITDA(1)

7

(6)

Depreciation and amortization

9

4

Net loss attributable to Non-Controlling Interest

(1)

(9)




 

Operating loss included in the table above does not significantly impact net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company as the related losses are largely attributable to Non-Controlling Interests.

Loblaw expects that the estimated annual impact in 2017 of new and current consolidated franchises will be revenue of approximately $680 million, adjusted EBITDA(1) of approximately $55 million, depreciation and amortization of approximately $45 million and net earnings attributable to Non-Controlling Interests of approximately $10 million.

OUTLOOK(2)
Weston Foods expects adjusted EBITDA(1) in 2017 to be essentially flat when compared to 2016. Sales growth generated by incremental capacity and productivity improvements will be offset by a challenging environment in Weston Foods' Canadian fresh bakery business and incremental investments required to meet new more stringent regulatory requirements in food safety and labelling. Management expects to make capital investments of approximately $250 million in 2017 related to growth, regulatory and maintenance. Depreciation is projected to increase in 2017 when compared to 2016.

Loblaw remains focused on its strategic framework, delivering the best in food, best in health and beauty, operational excellence and growth. This framework is supported by a financial plan of maintaining a stable trading environment that targets positive same-store sales and stable gross margin, surfacing efficiencies to deliver operating leverage, and returning capital to shareholders. In 2017, on a full year comparative basis, despite the current deflationary environment, Loblaw expects to:

  • deliver positive same-store sales and stable gross margin in its Retail segment in a highly competitive grocery market, with continued negative pressure from healthcare reform;
  • grow adjusted net earnings(1);
  • invest approximately $1.3 billion in capital expenditures, including $1.0 billion in its Retail segment; and
  • return capital to shareholders by allocating a significant portion of free cash flow to share repurchases.

For 2017, the Company expects growth in net earnings to be driven by an increase in net earnings at Loblaw, and the positive impact of the Company's increased ownership in Loblaw as a result of Loblaw's share repurchases.

DECLARATION OF QUARTERLY DIVIDENDS
Subsequent to the end of the first quarter of 2017, the Company's Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend on GWL Common Shares, Preferred Shares, Series I, Preferred Shares, Series III, Preferred Shares, Series IV and Preferred Shares, Series V payable as follows:


Common Shares

$0.455 per share payable July 1, 2017, to
shareholders of record June 15, 2017;





Preferred Shares, Series I

$0.3625 per share payable June 15, 2017, to
shareholders of record May 31, 2017;





Preferred Shares, Series III

$0.3250 per share payable July 1, 2017, to
shareholders of record June 15, 2017;





Preferred Shares, Series IV

$0.3250 per share payable July 1, 2017, to
shareholders of record June 15, 2017; and





Preferred Shares, Series V

$0.296875 per share payable July 1, 2017, to
shareholders of record June 15, 2017.


NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURES
The Company uses the following non-GAAP financial measures: adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin, adjusted net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company, adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company and adjusted diluted net earnings per common share. In addition to these items, the following measures are used by management in calculating adjusted diluted net earnings per common share: adjusted operating income, adjusted net interest expense and other financing charges, adjusted income taxes and adjusted income tax rate. The Company believes these non-GAAP financial measures provide useful information to both management and investors in measuring the financial performance of the Company for the reasons outlined below.

Management uses these and other non-GAAP financial measures to exclude the impact of certain expenses and income that must be recognized under GAAP when analyzing consolidated and segment underlying operating performance. The excluded items are not necessarily reflective of the Company's underlying operating performance and make comparisons of underlying financial performance between periods difficult. From time to time, the Company may exclude additional items if it believes doing so would result in a more effective analysis of underlying operating performance. The exclusion of certain items does not imply that they are non-recurring.

These measures do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by GAAP and therefore they may not be comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other publicly traded companies, and they should not be construed as an alternative to other financial measures determined in accordance with GAAP.

For details on the nature of items excluded in the calculation of any of the non-GAAP financial measures detailed below, see the "Non-GAAP Financial Measures" section of the Company's 2017 First Quarter Report to Shareholders.

Adjusted EBITDA  The Company believes adjusted EBITDA is useful in assessing and making decisions regarding the underlying operating performance of the Company's ongoing operations and in assessing the Company's ability to generate cash flows to fund its cash requirements, including its capital investment program.

The following table reconciles adjusted EBITDA to operating income, which is reconciled to GAAP net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company reported for the periods ended as indicated.


12 Weeks Ended



Mar. 25, 2017

Mar. 26, 2016


(unaudited)
($ millions)

Weston
Foods

Loblaw

Other(i)

Consolidated

Weston
Foods

Loblaw

Other(i)

Consolidated


Net earnings attributable to shareholders




$

117




$

47



 of the Company






Add impact of the following:











Non-controlling interests




123




98



Income taxes




100




75



Net interest expense and other          




170




237



financing charges                      






Operating income

$

23

$

490

$

(3)

$

510

$

34

$

434

$

(11)

$

457


Add impact of the following:










Amortization of intangible assets acquired


121


121


124


124




with Shoppers Drug Mart                       



















Pension annuities and buy-outs


7


7


2


2



Fair value adjustment of derivatives

5

6


11

(1)

10


9



Restructuring and other charges

9



9

9

1


10



Prior year land transfer tax assessment





10


10



Asset impairments, net of recoveries





2


2



Foreign currency translation



3

3



11

11


Adjusting items

$

14

$

134

$

3

$

151

$

8

$

149

$

11

$

168


Adjusted operating income

$

37

$

624

$

$

661

$

42

$

583

$

$

625


Depreciation and amortization excluding the

24

239


263

21

244


265



 impact of the above adjustments(ii)        


















Adjusted EBITDA

$

61

$

863

$

$

924

$

63

$

827

$

$

890




















(i)

Represents the effect of foreign currency translation on a portion of the U.S. dollar denominated cash and cash equivalents and short term investments held by foreign operations.

(ii)

Depreciation and amortization for the calculation of adjusted EBITDA excludes $121 million (2016 – $124 million) of amortization of intangible assets, acquired with Shoppers Drug Mart, recorded by Loblaw and $6 million of accelerated depreciation recorded by Weston Foods in 2016, related to restructuring and other charges.

 

Adjusted Net Interest Expense and Other Financing Charges  The Company believes adjusted net interest expense and other financing charges is useful in assessing the ongoing net financing costs of the Company.

The following table reconciles adjusted net interest expense and other financing charges to GAAP net interest expense and other financing charges reported for the periods ended as indicated.

(unaudited)

($ millions)

12 Weeks Ended


Mar. 25, 2017

Mar. 26, 2016


Net interest expense and other financing charges

$

170

$

237


Add:

Fair value adjustment of the Trust Unit liability

(24)

(21)



Fair value adjustment of the forward sale agreement for 9.6 million Loblaw





common shares                                                                          

(17)

(82)

Adjusted net interest expense and other financing charges

$

129

$

134








 

Adjusted Income Taxes and Adjusted Income Tax Rate  The Company believes the adjusted income tax rate applicable to adjusted earnings before taxes is useful in assessing the underlying operating performance of its business.

The following table reconciles the effective income tax rate applicable to adjusted earnings before taxes to the GAAP effective income tax rate applicable to earnings before taxes as reported for the periods ended as indicated.

(unaudited)

($ millions except where otherwise indicated)

12 Weeks Ended

Mar. 25, 2017

Mar. 26, 2016

Adjusted operating income(i)

$

661

$

625

Adjusted net interest expense and other financing charges(i)

129

134

Adjusted earnings before taxes

$

532

$

491

Income taxes

$

100

$

75

Add:

Tax impact of items excluded from adjusted earnings before taxes(ii)

45

65


Statutory corporate income tax rate change


(3)

Adjusted income taxes

$

145

$

137

Effective income tax rate applicable to earnings before taxes

29.4%

34.1%

Adjusted income tax rate applicable to adjusted earnings before taxes


27.3%


27.9%





(i)     

See reconciliations of adjusted operating income and adjusted net interest expense and other financing charges above.

(ii)

See the adjusted EBITDA table and the adjusted net interest expense and other financing charges table above for a complete list of items excluded from adjusted earnings before taxes.

 

Adjusted Net Earnings Available to Common Shareholders and Adjusted Diluted Net Earnings Per Common Share  The Company believes adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders and adjusted diluted net earnings per common share are useful in assessing the Company's underlying operating performance and in making decisions regarding the ongoing operations of its business.

The following table reconciles net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company to net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company and then to adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company reported for the periods ended as indicated.

(unaudited)

($ millions except where otherwise indicated)

12 Weeks Ended


Mar. 25, 2017

Mar. 26, 2016


Net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company

$

117

$

47


Less:

Prescribed dividends on preferred shares in share capital                   

(10)

(10)


Net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company

$

107

$

37


Less:

Reduction in net earnings due to dilutive instruments at Loblaw

(1)



Net earnings available to common shareholders for diluted earnings per share

$

106

$

37






Net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company

$

117

$

47


Adjusting items (refer to the following table)

76

131


Adjusted net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company

$

193

$

178


Less:

Prescribed dividends on preferred shares in share capital

(10)

(10)


Adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company

$

183

$

168


Less:

Reduction in net earnings due to dilutive instruments at Loblaw

(1)



Adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders for diluted earnings per share

$

182

$

168






Weighted average common shares outstanding (millions)(i)

128.2

128.3






(i)

Includes impact of dilutive instruments for purposes of calculating adjusted diluted net earnings per common share. 

 

The following table reconciles adjusted net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company and adjusted diluted net earnings per common share to GAAP net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company and diluted net earnings per common share as reported for the periods ended as indicated.


12 Weeks Ended



Mar. 25, 2017

Mar. 26, 2016


(unaudited)  
($ except where otherwise indicated)

Net Earnings
Available to
Common
Shareholders of
the Company
($ millions)

Diluted 
Net
Earnings 
Per 
Common
Share

Net Earnings
Available to
Common
Shareholders of
the Company
($ millions)

Diluted
Net 
Earnings 
Per
Common
Share


As reported

$

107

$

0.83

$

37

$

0.29


Add impact of the following(i):







Amortization of intangible assets acquired

42

0.33

43

0.33



with Shoppers Drug Mart



Pension annuities and buy-outs

2

0.02

1

0.01



Fair value adjustment of derivatives

6

0.05

3

0.02



Restructuring and other charges

7

0.05

6

0.05



Prior year land transfer tax assessment



3

0.02



Asset impairments, net of recoveries



1

0.01



Fair value adjustment of the forward sale agreement for

12

0.09

59

0.46



9.6 million Loblaw common shares



Fair value adjustment of the Trust Unit liability

5

0.03

4

0.03



Statutory corporate income tax rate change



1

0.01



Foreign currency translation

2

0.02

10

0.08


Adjusting items

$

76

$

0.59

$

131

$

1.02


Adjusted

$

183

$

1.42

$

168

$

1.31












(i)

Net of income taxes and non-controlling interests, as applicable.


 

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This News Release contains forward-looking statements about the Company's objectives, plans, goals, aspirations, strategies, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, performance, prospects and opportunities. Specific forward-looking statements in this News Release include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to the Company's anticipated future results, events and plans, strategic initiatives, sale of gas bar operations and planned capital investments. These specific forward-looking statements are contained throughout this News Release including, without limitation, in the "Outlook" section of this News Release. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by words such as "expect", "anticipate", "believe", "foresee", "could", "estimate", "goal", "intend", "plan", "seek", "strive", "will", "may", "maintain", "achieve", "grow", and "should" and similar expressions, as they relate to the Company and its management.

Forward-looking statements reflect the Company's current estimates, beliefs and assumptions, which are based on management's perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors it believes are appropriate in the circumstances. The Company's expectation of operating and financial performance in 2017 is based on certain assumptions including assumptions about sales and volume growth, anticipated cost savings, operating efficiencies, and continued growth from current initiatives. The Company's estimates, beliefs and assumptions are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive and other uncertainties and contingencies regarding future events and as such, are subject to change. The Company can give no assurance that such estimates, beliefs and assumptions will prove to be correct.

Numerous risks and uncertainties could cause the Company's actual results to differ materially from those expressed, implied or projected in the forward-looking statements, including those described in the "Enterprise Risks and Risk Management" section of the Management's Discussion and Analysis in the Company's 2016 Annual Report and the Company's Annual Information Form ("AIF") for the year ended December 31, 2016. Such risks and uncertainties include:

  • changes to the regulation of generic prescription drug prices, the reduction of reimbursements under public drug benefit plans and the elimination or reduction of professional allowances paid by drug manufacturers;
  • failure to effectively manage Loblaw's loyalty programs;
  • the inability of the Company's information technology ("IT") infrastructure to support the requirements of the Company's business, or the occurrence of any internal or external security breaches, denial of service attacks, viruses, worms and other known or unknown cybersecurity or data breaches;
  • failure to realize benefits from investments in the Company's new IT systems;
  • failure to effectively respond to consumer trends or heightened competition, whether from current competitors or new entrants to the marketplace;
  • public health events including those related to food and drug safety;
  • changes to any of the laws, rules, regulations or policies applicable to the Company's business;
  • failure to merchandise effectively, to execute Loblaw's e-commerce initiative or to adapt its business model to the shifts in the retail landscape caused by digital advances;
  • failure to realize the anticipated benefits, including revenue growth, anticipated cost savings or operating efficiencies associated with the Company's investment in major initiatives that support its strategic priorities;
  • changes in economic conditions, including economic recession or changes in the rate of inflation or deflation, employment rates and household debt, interest rates, currency exchange rates and derivative or commodity prices;
  • failure to achieve desired results in labour negotiations, including the terms of future collective bargaining agreements;
  • adverse outcomes of legal and regulatory proceedings and related matters;
  • reliance on the performance and retention of third-party service providers, including those associated with the Company's supply chain and Loblaw's apparel business, including issues with vendors in both advanced and developing markets;
  • the inability of the Company to manage inventory to minimize the impact of obsolete or excess inventory and to control shrink;
  • the inability of the Company to effectively develop and execute its strategy; and
  • the inability of the Company to anticipate, identify and react to consumer and retail trends.

This is not an exhaustive list of the factors that may affect the Company's forward-looking statements. Other risks and uncertainties not presently known to the Company or that the Company presently believes are not material could also cause actual results or events to differ materially from those expressed in its forward-looking statements. Additional risks and uncertainties are discussed in the Company's materials filed with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities from time to time, including without limitation, the section entitled "Operating and Financial Risks and Risk Management" in the Company's AIF for the year ended December 31, 2016. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which reflect the Company's expectations only as of the date of this News Release. Except as required by law, the Company does not undertake to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

2017 FIRST QUARTER REPORT TO SHAREHOLDERS
The Company's 2016 Annual Report and 2017 First Quarter Report to Shareholders are available in the Investor Centre section of the Company's website at www.weston.ca and have been filed with SEDAR and are available online at www.sedar.com.

INVESTOR RELATIONS
Shareholders, security analysts and investment professionals should direct their requests to Mr. Geoffrey H. Wilson, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations, Business Intelligence and Communications, at the Company's Executive Office or by e-mail at investor@weston.ca.

Additional financial information has been filed electronically with various securities regulators in Canada through SEDAR. This News Release includes selected information on Loblaw Companies Limited, a public company with shares trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. For information regarding Loblaw, readers should also refer to the materials filed by Loblaw with SEDAR from time to time. These filings are also maintained at Loblaw's corporate website at www.loblaw.ca.

FIRST QUARTER CONFERENCE CALL AND WEBCAST PRESENTATION
George Weston Limited will host a conference call as well as an audio webcast on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. (EDT). To access via tele-conference, please dial (647) 427-7450 or 1-888-231-8191. The playback will be available two hours after the event at (416) 849-0833 or 1-855-859-2056, passcode: 49356206#. To access via audio webcast, please visit the Investor Centre section of www.weston.ca. Pre-registration will be available.

ANNUAL MEETING
The George Weston Limited Annual Meeting of Shareholders will be held on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. (EDT) at The Royal Conservatory, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. To access via tele-conference, please dial (647) 427-7450 or 1-888-231-8191. The playback will be available two hours after the event at (416) 849-0833 or 1-855-859-2056, passcode: 92501039#. To access via audio webcast, please visit the Investor Centre section of www.weston.ca. Pre-registration will be available. 



Endnotes



(1)

See "Non-GAAP Financial Measures" section of this News Release.

(2)

This News Release contains forward-looking information. See Forward-Looking Statements of this News Release for a discussion of material factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forecasts and projections herein and of the material factors, estimates, beliefs and assumptions that were applied in presenting the conclusions, forecasts and projections presented herein. This News Release must be read in conjunction with GWL's filings with securities regulators made from time to time, all of which can be found at www.weston.ca and www.sedar.com.



 

SOURCE George Weston Limited

For further information: Mr. Geoffrey H. Wilson, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations, Business Intelligence and Communications, at the Company's Executive Office or by e-mail at investor@weston.ca.