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Press release from CNW Group

George Weston Limited - 2011 First Quarter Results(1).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

George Weston Limited - 2011 First Quarter Results(1).08:00 EDT Tuesday, May 10, 2011TORONTO, ONTARIO, May 10 /CNW/ - George Weston Limited (TSX: WN) ("GWL") and its subsidiaries (collectively the "Company") today is announcing its unaudited results for the 12 weeks ended March 26, 2011.The Company's Q1 2011 Quarterly Report to Shareholders, including the Company's interim period condensed consolidated financial statements and Management's Discussion and Analysis ("MD&A") for the 12 weeks ended March 26, 2011, is available in the Investor Centre section of the Company's website at www.weston.ca and has been filed with the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval ("SEDAR") and will be available at www.sedar.com.George Weston Limited has adopted a new approach to releasing quarterly financial results. The Company's first, second and third quarter reports and annual MD&A, annual consolidated financial statements and notes will now be posted only to the Company's website at www.weston.ca and filed with the relevant Canadian securities regulators on SEDAR. The Company will continue to issue its quarterly press releases through the newswire and on www.weston.ca.CONSOLIDATED RESULTS OF OPERATIONSGeorge Weston Limited's first quarter 2011 adjusted basic net earnings per common share(2) were $1.07 compared to $0.74 in the same period in 2010, an increase of $0.33. The increase was primarily attributable to the strong improvement in the operating performance of the Company's two operating segments, Weston Foods and Loblaw Companies Limited ("Loblaw"), and decreases in both net interest expense and other financing charges and income tax expense. << 12 Weeks Ended ------------ ($ millions except where otherwise Mar. 26, Mar. 27, indicated) 2011 2010 (unaudited) (unaudited) Change ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sales $ 7,148 $ 7,164 (0.2)% Operating income $ 303 $ 300 1.0% Operating margin 4.2% 4.2% Adjusted operating income(2) $ 380 $ 345 10.1% Adjusted operating margin(2) 5.3% 4.8% Net interest expense and other financing charges $ 66 $ 143 (53.8)% Net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company $ 105 $ 37 183.8% Basic net earnings per common share ($) $ 0.74 $ 0.21 252.4% Adjusted basic net earnings per common share ($)(2) $ 1.07 $ 0.74 44.6% ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Adjusted EBITDA(2) $ 546 $ 499 9.4% Adjusted EBITDA margin(2) 7.6% 7.0% ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------ >>Due to the Company's transition to International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS" or "GAAP"), effective the first quarter of 2011, all comparative figures that were previously reported in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles have been restated to conform with IFRS.Beginning with the first quarter of 2011, the Company is using three new non-GAAP financial measures: adjusted basic net earnings per common share(2), adjusted operating income(2) and adjusted EBITDA(2). Under GAAP, certain expenses and income must be recognized that are not necessarily reflective of the Company's underlying operating performance. Management therefore uses these non-GAAP financial measures, which exclude the impact of certain items, internally when analyzing its consolidated and segment underlying operating performance. These non-GAAP financial measures are also helpful in assessing underlying operating performance on a consistent basis. Adjusted operating income(2) and adjusted EBITDA(2) exclude restructuring and other charges, a commodity derivatives fair value adjustment at Weston Foods, foreign currency translation losses and share-based compensation net of equity derivatives. Adjusted basic net earnings per common share(2) also exclude the impact of the accounting for Weston Holdings Limited's ("WHL"), a subsidiary of GWL, forward sale agreement for 9.6 million Loblaw common shares. See the "Non-GAAP Financial Measures" section of this News Release for more information on the Company's non-GAAP financial measures.OPERATING SEGMENTS << Weston Foods 12 Weeks Ended ------------ Mar. 26, Mar. 27, 2011 2010 ($ millions) (unaudited) (unaudited) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sales $ 410 $ 385 Operating income $ 19 $ 42 Operating margin 4.6% 10.9% Adjusted operating income(2) $ 57 $ 47 Adjusted operating margin(2) 13.9% 12.2% Adjusted EBITDA(2) $ 71 $ 59 Adjusted EBITDA margin(2) 17.3% 15.3% ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------ >>Weston Foods sales in the first quarter of 2011 increased by 6.5% to $410 million, supported by volume growth of 8.0% compared to the same period in 2010. The acquisition of Keystone Bakery Holdings, LLC and ACE Bakery Ltd. in the third and fourth quarters of 2010, respectively, positively impacted sales growth and volume growth by approximately 10.8% and 9.1%, respectively, while foreign currency translation negatively impacted sales growth by approximately 2.9%. Excluding the acquisitions and foreign currency translation, sales decreased by 1.4% due to a decrease in volume of 1.1% and the negative impact of lower pricing of 0.3%.Weston Foods adjusted operating income(2) was $57 million in the first quarter of 2011 compared to $47 million in the same period in 2010, an increase of 21.3%. Adjusted operating margin(2) was 13.9% in the first quarter of 2011 compared to 12.2% in the same period in 2010. Adjusted operating income(2) was positively impacted by sales growth as a result of the bakery acquisitions and by the benefits realized from productivity improvements and other cost reduction initiatives and from lower input costs, which were partially offset by the impact of higher fuel costs. Weston Foods adjusted operating income(2) excludes restructuring and other charges, a commodity derivatives fair value adjustment and share-based compensation net of equity derivatives. See the "Non-GAAP Financial Measures" section of this News Release for more information on the Company's non-GAAP financial measures.Loblaw << 12 Weeks Ended ------------ Mar. 26, Mar. 27, 2011 2010 ($ millions) (unaudited) (unaudited) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sales $ 6,872 $ 6,913 Operating income $ 301 $ 287 Operating margin 4.4% 4.2% Adjusted operating income(2) $ 323 $ 298 Adjusted operating margin(2) 4.7% 4.3% Adjusted EBITDA(2) $ 475 $ 440 Adjusted EBITDA margin(2) 6.9% 6.4% ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------ >>Loblaw continues to progress with its renewal plan while it begins to turn its focus on new opportunities for growth. Loblaw remains focused on executing the plan in an unpredictable and competitively intense market environment.Loblaw sales in the first quarter of 2011 of $6,872 million decreased 0.6% compared to the same period in 2010. Same-store retail sales declined 0.1%. Sales growth in food was flat, sales in drugstore and apparel declined marginally, sales in other general merchandise declined moderately and gas bar sales growth was strong. Loblaw experienced modest average quarterly internal food price inflation during the first quarter of 2011, which was lower than the national food price inflation of 2.5% (2010 - 0.7%) as measured by "The Consumer Price Index for Food Purchased from Stores". In the first quarter of 2010, Loblaw experienced marginal average quarterly internal food price deflation.Loblaw adjusted operating income(2) in the first quarter of 2011 was $323 million compared to $298 million in the same period in 2010, an increase of 8.4%. Loblaw adjusted operating margin(2) was 4.7% in the first quarter of 2011 compared to 4.3% in the same period in 2010. Adjusted operating income(2) improved primarily as a result of improved control label profitability, improved shrink, labour efficiencies, the improvement in the performance of Loblaw's franchise business and a stronger Canadian dollar, partially offset by the timing of Easter vendor programs, increased transportation costs, and the incremental costs related to the investment in information technology and supply chain. Loblaw adjusted operating income(2) excludes share-based compensation net of equity derivatives, and other charges. See the "Non-GAAP Financial Measures" section of this News Release for more information on the Company's non-GAAP financial measures.NET INTEREST EXPENSE AND OTHER FINANCING CHARGESNet interest expense and other financing charges in the first quarter of 2011 decreased by $77 million to $66 million from $143 million in the same period in 2010, primarily due to a $61 million decrease in the non-cash charge related to the fair value adjustment of WHL's forward sale agreement for 9.6 million Loblaw common shares compared to the same period in 2010. Excluding the impact of this fair value adjustment, net interest expense and other financing charges in the first quarter of 2011 decreased by $16 million compared to the same period in 2010, due to a net decrease in long term debt, an increase in net interest income on financial derivative instruments and an increase in interest income as a result of higher short term interest rates.INCOME TAXESThe effective income tax rate decreased to 30.4% in the first quarter of 2011 compared to 44.6% in the same period in 2010. The decrease was primarily due to a decrease in income tax expense related to certain prior year income tax matters, a decrease in non-deductible foreign currency translation losses and reductions in the Federal and Ontario statutory income tax rates.OUTLOOK(1)This outlook reflects the underlying operating performance of the Company's operating segments as discussed below.For the full year 2011, Weston Foods expects to deliver sales growth driven primarily from the full year impact of the 2010 bakery acquisitions and satisfactory operating performance despite significant cost pressure and a competitive pricing environment. Weston Foods will focus on mitigating rising commodity costs and escalating energy costs through a combination of price increases and cost reduction initiatives in an effort to achieve operating margins in line with those in 2010.Loblaw continues to progress with its renewal plan while it begins to turn its focus on new opportunities for growth. In 2011, Loblaw remains focused on executing the plan in an uncertain market environment with expected inflationary pressures and continued competitive intensity. Loblaw plans to continue its investment in information technology and supply chain which will negatively impact operating income.George Weston Limited continues to assess opportunities for the deployment of its significant holdings of cash and short term investments.FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTSThis News Release for the Company contains forward-looking statements about the Company's objectives, plans, goals, aspirations, strategies, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, performance, prospects and opportunities. Words such as "anticipate", "expect", "believe", "foresee", "could", "estimate", "goal", "intend", "plan", "seek", "strive", "will", "may" and "should" and similar expressions, as they relate to the Company and its management, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not historical facts but reflect the Company's current expectations concerning future results and events.These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations, including, but not limited to: << - the possibility that the Company's plans and objectives will not be achieved; - changes in economic conditions including the rate of inflation or deflation and changes in interest and foreign currency exchange rates; - changes in consumer spending and preferences; - heightened competition, whether from new competitors or current competitors; - the availability and increased costs relating to raw materials, ingredients and utilities, including electricity and fuel; - changes in the Company's or its competitors' pricing strategies; - failure of the Company's franchised stores to perform as expected; - failure to realize sales growth, anticipated cost savings or operating efficiencies from the Company's major initiatives, including investments in the Company's information technology systems, supply chain investments and other cost reduction initiatives, or unanticipated results from these initiatives; - the inability of the Company to successfully implement its infrastructure and information technology components of its plan; - the inability of the Company's information technology infrastructure to support the requirements of the Company's business; - the inability of the Company to manage inventory to minimize the impact of obsolete or excess inventory and to control shrink; - failure to execute successfully and in a timely manner the Company's major initiatives, including the implementation of strategies and introduction of innovative and reformulated products or new and renovated stores; - unanticipated results associated with the Company's strategic initiatives, including the impact of acquisitions or dispositions of businesses on the Company's future revenues and earnings; - the inability of the Company's supply chain to service the needs of the Company's stores; - failure to achieve desired results in labour negotiations, including the terms of future collective bargaining agreements which could lead to work stoppages; - changes to and failure to comply with the legislative/regulatory environment in which the Company operates, including failure to comply with environmental laws and regulations; - the adoption of new accounting standards and changes in the Company's use of accounting estimates; - fluctuations in the Company's earnings due to changes in the value of share-based compensation and equity derivative contracts relating to GWL and Loblaw common shares; - changes in the Company's income, commodity and other tax liabilities including changes in tax laws or future assessments; - reliance on the performance and retention of third-party service providers, including those associated with the Company's supply chain and apparel business; - public health events; - risks associated with product defects, food safety and product handling; - the inability of the Company to collect on its credit card receivables; - any requirement of the Company to make contributions to its funded defined benefit pension plans in excess of those currently contemplated; - the inability of the Company to attract and retain key executives; - supply and quality control issues with vendors; and - failure by the Company to maintain appropriate documentation to support its compliance with accounting, tax or legal rules, regulations and policies. >>These and other risks and uncertainties are discussed in the Company's materials filed with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities from time to time, including Section 12, "Enterprise Risks and Risk Management", of the MD&A included in GWL's 2010 Annual Report. These forward-looking statements contained herein reflect management's current assumptions regarding these risks and uncertainties and their respective impact on the Company.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. 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. The Company disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. << ------------------- (1) 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 conclusions, forecasts and projections herein and of the material factors and assumptions that were applied in presenting the conclusions, forecasts and projections presented herein. This News Release must be read in conjunction with George Weston Limited's filings with securities regulators made from time to time, all of which can be found at www.weston.ca and www.sedar.com. (2) See non-GAAP financial measures. >>NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURESIn this News Release the Company uses the following non-GAAP financial measures: adjusted operating income and adjusted operating margin, adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin and adjusted basic net earnings per common share. The Company believes these non-GAAP financial measures provide useful information to both management and investors in measuring the financial performance and financial condition of the Company for the reasons outlined below. 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.Adjusted Operating Income, Adjusted Operating Margin, Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA MarginThe following table reconciles adjusted operating income and adjusted EBITDA to GAAP net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company reported for the periods ended as indicated. Under GAAP, certain expenses and income must be recognized that are not necessarily reflective of the Company's underlying operating performance. Management therefore uses these non-GAAP financial measures, which exclude the impact of certain items, internally when analyzing its consolidated and segment underlying operating performance. These non-GAAP financial measures are also helpful in assessing underlying operating performance on a consistent basis. 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 the items listed below does not imply that they are non-recurring. Loblaw does not report its results on an adjusted basis, however the Company excludes the impact of the below items, as applicable, when reporting the results of the Loblaw segment.The Company believes adjusted operating income is useful in assessing the Company's underlying operating performance and in making decisions regarding the ongoing operations of its business. The Company believes adjusted EBITDA is also useful in assessing 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. Adjusted operating margin is calculated as adjusted operating income divided by sales. Adjusted EBITDA margin is calculated as adjusted EBITDA divided by sales. << ------------------------------------------ 12 Weeks Ended Mar. 26, 2011 ------------------------------------------ Weston Consoli- ($ millions) Foods Loblaw Other(1) dated ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company $ 105 Add impact of the following: Non-controlling interests 60 Income taxes 72 Interest expense and other financing charges 66 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operating income (loss) $ 19 $ 301 $ (17) $ 303 Add (deduct) impact of the following: Restructuring and other charges(2) 6 29 35 Commodity derivatives fair value adjustment at Weston Foods 16 16 Foreign currency translation losses 17 17 Share-based compensation net of equity derivatives 16 (7) 9 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Adjusted operating income $ 57 $ 323 $ $ 380 Depreciation and amortization 14 152 166 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Adjusted EBITDA $ 71 $ 475 $ $ 546 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------ 12 Weeks Ended Mar. 27, 2010 ------------------------------------------ Weston Consoli- ($ millions) Foods Loblaw Other(1) dated ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Net earnings attributable to shareholders of the Company $ 37 Add impact of the following: Non-controlling interests 50 Income taxes 70 Interest expense and other financing charges 143 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Operating income (loss) $ 42 $ 287 $ (29) $ 300 Add (deduct) impact of the following: Restructuring and other charges(2) 9 5 14 Commodity derivatives fair value adjustment at Weston Foods Foreign currency translation losses 29 29 Share-based compensation net of equity derivatives (4) 6 2 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Adjusted operating income $ 47 $ 298 $ $ 345 Depreciation and amortization 12 142 154 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Adjusted EBITDA $ 59 $ 440 $ $ 499 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------ (1) Operating income in the first quarter of 2011 includes a loss of $17 million (2010 - $29 million) related to the effect of foreign currency translation on a portion of the U.S. dollar denominated cash and short term investments held by Dunedin Holdings GmbH, a subsidiary of GWL, and certain of its affiliates, which are foreign operations that have the same functional currency as that of the Company. (2) Other charges at Loblaw include $8 million (2010 - nil) related to an internal re-alignment of Loblaw's business centered around Loblaw's two primary store formats, Discount and Conventional, and $21 million (2010 - $5 million) related to changes in Loblaw's distribution network. >>The year-over-year change in the following items influenced operating income growth in the first quarter of 2011:Restructuring and other chargesThe Company continuously evaluates strategic and cost reduction initiatives related to its store infrastructure, manufacturing assets, distribution networks and administrative infrastructure with the objective of ensuring a low cost operating structure. Restructuring activities related to these initiatives are ongoing. The year-over-year increase in restructuring and other charges was $21 million and was primarily attributable to cost reduction initiatives at Loblaw in the first quarter of 2011.Commodity derivative fair value adjustment at Weston FoodsWeston Foods is exposed to commodity price fluctuations primarily as a result of purchases of certain raw materials, fuels and utilities. In accordance with the Company's risk management strategy, Weston Foods enters into commodity derivatives to reduce the impact of price fluctuations in forecasted raw material purchases over a specified period of time. These commodity derivatives are not acquired for trading or speculative purposes. These commodity derivatives are not designated for financial reporting purposes as cash flow hedges of anticipated future raw material purchases, and accordingly hedge accounting does not apply. As a result, changes in the fair value of these derivatives, which include realized and unrealized gains and losses related to future purchases of raw materials, are recorded in operating income. Weston Foods recorded a charge of $16 million (2010 - a charge of a nominal amount) related to the fair value adjustment of exchange traded commodity derivatives that were not designated within a hedging relationship. Despite the impact of accounting for these commodity derivatives on the Company's reported results, the derivatives have the economic impact of largely mitigating the associated risks arising from price fluctuations in the underlying commodities during the period that the commodity derivatives are held.Foreign currency translation lossesThe impact of foreign currency translation on a portion of the U.S. dollar denominated net assets, primarily cash and short term investments held by Dunedin Holdings GmbH, a subsidiary of GWL, and certain of its affiliates, which are foreign operations that have the same functional currency as that of the Company, is recorded in operating income. The year-over-year decrease in foreign currency translation losses was $12 million and was primarily attributable to a lower appreciation of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010.Share-based compensation net of equity derivativesThe amount of net share-based compensation cost recorded in operating income is mainly dependent upon the level of fluctuations in the market price of GWL and Loblaw common shares. The equity derivatives change in value as the market prices of the respective underlying common shares change and provide a partial offset to fluctuations in share-based compensation expense, including RSU plan expense. The amount of net share-based compensation cost recorded in operating income is mainly dependent upon the level of fluctuations in the market price of the respective underlying common shares, the number of unexercised RSUs and their vesting schedules relative to the number of underlying common shares. The Company manages stock option, RSU plan and equity derivative impacts on a net basis and therefore the impact of stock options is also excluded from operating income when management reviews consolidated and segment operating performance. The year-over-year increase in the share-based compensation net of equity derivatives charge was $7 million and was primarily attributable to the decreases in the market prices of GWL and Loblaw common shares in the first quarter of 2011 compared to increases in the first quarter of 2010.Adjusted Basic Net Earnings per Common ShareThe following table reconciles adjusted basic net earnings per common share to GAAP basic net earnings per common share reported for the periods ended as indicated. Under GAAP, certain expenses and income must be recognized that are not necessarily reflective of the Company's underlying operating performance. Management therefore uses this non-GAAP financial measure, which excludes the impact of certain items, internally when analyzing its consolidated underlying operating performance. This non-GAAP financial measure is also helpful in assessing underlying operating performance on a consistent basis. From time to time, the Company may exclude additional items if it believes doing so would result in a more effective analysis of underlying operating performance. The exclusion of the items listed below does not imply that they are non-recurring. Loblaw does not report its results on an adjusted basis, however the Company excludes the impact of the below items on the Loblaw segment, as applicable, when reporting the Company's consolidated results.The Company believes adjusted basic net earnings per common share is useful in assessing the Company's underlying operating performance and in making decisions regarding the ongoing operations of its business. << 12 Weeks Ended ------------ Mar. 26, Mar. 27, ($) 2011 2010 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Basic net earnings per common share $ 0.74 $ 0.21 Add (deduct) impact of the following(1): Accounting for WHL's forward sale agreement for 9.6 million Loblaw common shares (0.12) 0.24 Share-based compensation net of equity derivatives 0.10 Foreign currency translation losses 0.13 0.22 Commodity derivatives fair value adjustment at Weston Foods 0.09 Restructuring and other charges 0.13 0.07 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Adjusted basic net earnings per common share $ 1.07 $ 0.74 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------ (1) Net of interest, income taxes and non-controlling interests, as applicable. >>In addition to the items described in the "Adjusted Operating Income, Adjusted Operating Margin, Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA Margin" section above, the year-over-year change in the following item also influenced basic net earnings per common share growth in the first quarter of 2011:Accounting for WHL's forward sale agreement for 9.6 million Loblaw common sharesWHL recognizes a non-cash charge or income, which is included in consolidated net interest expense and other financing charges, representing the fair value adjustment of WHL's forward sale agreement for 9.6 million shares. The fair value adjustment in the forward contract is a non-cash item resulting from fluctuations in the market price of the underlying Loblaw shares that WHL owns. WHL does not record any change in the market price associated with the Loblaw shares it owns. At maturity, if the forward price is greater than the market price, WHL will receive a cash amount equal to the difference. If the forward price is less than the market price, WHL will pay a cash amount equal to the difference. Any cash paid under the forward contract could be offset by the sale of Loblaw shares. The year-over-year decrease in charge related to the accounting for WHL's forward sale agreement for 9.6 million Loblaw common shares was $0.36 per common share and was attributable to the decrease in the market price of Loblaw common shares in the first quarter of 2011 compared to an increase in the first quarter of 2010.UNAUDITED 2011 FIRST QUARTER CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSISThe Company's unaudited interim period condensed consolidated financial statements and MD&A for the 12 weeks ended March 26, 2011 are available in the Investor Centre section of the Company's website at www.weston.ca and have been filed with SEDAR and will be available at www.sedar.com.INVESTOR RELATIONSShareholders, security analysts and investment professionals should direct their requests to Mr. Geoffrey H. Wilson, Senior Vice President, Financial Control and Investor Relations, at the Company's Executive Office or by e-mail at investor@weston.ca.Additional financial information has been filed electronically with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities in Canada through SEDAR. This News Release includes selected information on Loblaw Companies Limited, a 62.8%-owned public reporting subsidiary company with shares trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. For information regarding Loblaw, readers should also refer to the materials filed by Loblaw with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities from time to time. These filings are also available on Loblaw's corporate website at www.loblaw.ca.CONFERENCE CALL AND WEBCAST PRESENTATIONGeorge Weston Limited will host a conference call as well as an audio webcast on May 10, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. (EST). To access via teleconference please dial (647) 427-7450. The playback will be made available two hours after the event at (416) 849-0833 passcode: 59173236 followed by the number sign. To access via audio webcast please visit the Investor Centre section of www.weston.ca. Pre-registration will be available.ANNUAL MEETINGThe George Weston Limited Annual Meeting of Shareholders will be held on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. (EST) at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building, Constitution Hall, Room 105, 255 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. To access via teleconference, please dial (647) 427-7450. The playback will be available two hours after the event at (416) 849-0833, passcode: 59347742 followed by the number sign. To access via audio webcast, please visit the Investor Centre section of www.weston.ca. Pre-registration will be available.Ce rapport est disponible en français.For further information: Mr. Geoffrey H. Wilson, Senior Vice President, Financial Control and Investor Relations, at the Company's Executive Office or by e-mail at investor@weston.ca