TORONTO – George Weston Limited (“George Weston” or the “Company”) (TSX: WN) today provided an update relating to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Company and its operating segments continue to play important roles in the current environment and have taken significant steps in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Loblaw experienced a sharp increase in sales beginning in March and has made significant investments across its businesses to ensure that Canadians have continued access to food and pharmacy products and services in-store and on-line, and to provide a safe and secure environment in its stores and pharmacies. Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust recently announced that it will work with qualifying small businesses and independent tenants who have requested rent relief, on a case by case basis, with rent deferrals for 60 days. Weston Foods has rapidly responded to changes in demand from retail and foodservice customers, is taking action to ensure the reliability of its supply chain, and has enhanced its manufacturing practices to safeguard the health of its workforce and ensure the safety of its products.
Galen G. Weston, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of George Weston Limited, commented that “George Weston’s businesses have responded quickly and thoughtfully in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all with a view to supporting their colleagues, customers, tenants, suppliers and their communities. We are proud of the actions being taken at each of Loblaw, Choice Properties and Weston Foods during these unprecedented and challenging times and the extraordinary efforts of our workforce. Our group of companies will continue this important work and will continue to serve the needs of our communities and stakeholders as best as we can.”
With these changes and others being implemented by the Company’s operating businesses and the uncertainty about the duration and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to predict with precision how the Company and each of its operating segments will perform for the balance of the year relative to the published guidance from the Company and each of its operating businesses. As a result, the Company is withdrawing the 2020 Outlook contained in its Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the year ended December 31, 2019 (the “Annual MD&A”). The Company expects to release its 2020 first quarter results on May 5, 2020.
About George Weston Limited
George Weston Limited is a Canadian public company founded in 1882. The Company operates through its three reportable operating segments, Loblaw Companies Limited, Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust and Weston Foods. Loblaw provides Canadians with grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, financial services and wireless mobile products and services. Choice Properties owns, manages and develops a high-quality portfolio of commercial retail, industrial, office and residential properties across Canada. The Weston Foods operating segment includes a leading North American bakery that offers packaged bread and rolls in Canada as well as frozen and artisan bread and rolls, cakes, donuts, pies, biscuits and alternatives throughout Canada and the U.S.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities legislation, including with respect to the announced corporate actions and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which reflects the Company’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 the Company or the business, operations and performance of its operating segments, including the Company’s ability to meet or remain on track to meet or exceed its stated 2020 financial outlook, which has now been withdrawn; (b) the Company and its operating segments ability to mitigate such impacts; (c) credit, market, currency, operational, and liquidity risks generally; and (d) other risks inherent to the Company or its operating segments’ businesses 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 the Company’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 the Annual MD&A and the Company’s current Annual Information Form and uncertainty related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Company 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.