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Report On Business Sobey families consolidate Empire voting shares into single holding company

A Sobeys grocery store is seen in Halifax in this file photo. The threeSobey families that control Canada’s second-largest grocery business have decided to put all of their class B shares of Empire Co. into a single holding company.

Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The three branches of the Sobey family that control Canada's second-largest grocery business have decided to put all of their Class B shares of Empire Co. Ltd. into a single holding company.

The president of the new holding company, Stewart Mahoney, says the three families believe the new governance structure will be a better way to administer their interests in Empire – the publicly traded parent of Sobeys Inc.

The business traces its history to 1907, when John William (J.W.) Sobey started a meat delivery business with a horse-drawn cart in Stellarton, N.S.

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Empire Co. Ltd. was incorporated in February 1963 and has grown to about $24-billion of annual sales in fiscal 2017, mostly from its national network of grocery stores under various banners.

The Empire Class B stock was acquired from companies controlled by David F. Sobey, children of the late William Sobey and Donald R. Sobey.

Class B Holdings Ltd. now has 92.66 per cent of Empire's outstanding voting common shares. The Sobey families continue to separately hold non-voting Class A shares outside of CBHL.

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