Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Galen Weston, CEO of George Weston Limited, speaks at the company's annual general meeting in Toronto on May 10, 2016.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

The parent company of baked-goods manufacturer Weston Foods saw sales from food service clients, such as restaurants, slashed in half amid dining room closures as governments work to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Over the last several weeks, the world has changed drastically. Each of us is living a new reality,” said Richard Dufresne, chief executive of George Weston Ltd., during the company’s quarterly earnings call with analysts Tuesday.

The company, whose operating arms include Weston Foods, Loblaw Companies Ltd. and Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust, did not see its businesses significantly impacted from a financial perspective by the outbreak during its first quarter, which ended March 21, he said.

Story continues below advertisement

“Looking ahead to the second quarter, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic continue.”

Loblaw saw an increase in sales, but also in operating costs, he noted. Loblaw is spending about $90 million every four weeks in costs related to the pandemic, including temporary wage increases for workers, the grocer said late last month.

Choice Properties continues to respond to requests for rent deferrals from small-business tenants, said Dufresne, adding 86.6 per cent of its rent was paid as of April.

Weston Foods, which makes bread, cupcakes, doughnuts, biscuits and other baked foods for retail and food-service clients, saw demand for the latter category fall by more than 50 per cent, he said.

Food-service sales represent about 20 per cent of Weston Foods sales – with the remaining 80 per cent coming from retail.

Retail customers continue to by more fresh bread than before, he said, but they are not purchasing items from the bakery case or celebratory ones, such as cakes.

The increase in packaged bread sales doesn’t offset the decreases Weston Foods is seeing in other categories and from its food service division.

Story continues below advertisement

The bakery segment is also facing increased costs of about $1 million per week since the start of the second quarter, he said. In an effort to mitigate the spending, the division is taking additional cost-cutting measures, among other steps.

The company currently has four bakeries closed – three related to positive COVID-19 cases and one due to decreased demand, he said.

It’s difficult to predict how the company and its three operating segments will perform for the balance of the year amid the pandemic-related uncertainty, he said, noting the company withdrew its financial guidance early last month.

The commentary came as George Weston reported a profit in its latest quarter compared with a loss a year ago when it took a large one-time charge.

The profit available to common shareholders totalled $582 million or $3.78 per diluted share for the first quarter.

That compared with a loss of $488 million or $3.18 per diluted share a year ago when it recorded a fair value adjustment of the trust unit liability of nearly $1.09 billion or $7.07 per share.

Story continues below advertisement

Revenue totalled $12.3 billion, up from nearly $11.7 billion a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, George Weston earned $239 million or $1.55 per share for the quarter, up from $201 million or $1.30 per diluted share in the same period in 2019.

It attributed the increase to an improvement in the underlying operating performance of the company and an increase in the its ownership interest in Loblaw.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies