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Can Weston Get the Blah Out of Loblaw?: Wells



Is Loblaws a great grocery store?

Are Saturday mornings electric with the anticipation of pushing a cart along those overly air-conditioned aisles in the perusal of salad greens in plastic tubs and packaged processed foods from far off lands?

The question occurs as Galen G. Weston the Younger (G2) ascends to the chairman’s chair at George Weston Ltd., taking the reins from his father, W. Galen Weston (G1). The titular transfer is a good news story, as it affirms the possibility that multi-generational business families can beat the shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves-in-three-generations curse. Eaton’s, we recall, collapsed into the laps of the fourth-generation Eaton boys. They seemed surprised. The younger Galen Weston, now 43, represents generation four at the company that dates its roots back to its bread baking beginnings in Toronto circa 1882, and stands today as parent company to Weston Foods (baked goods) and Loblaw Cos. Ltd.

But that was Wednesday.

It’s the next three decades I’m wondering about, as the newly affirmed leader guides the future of what is fundamentally still a ’50s-era concept: antiseptic hyper-refrigerated boxes that too often feel like emporia of plastic as opposed to purveyors of food.

This will be an interesting challenge, possibly a transformative one.

A decade ago, the young Galen stepped into his first executive role at the company, though it was clear then that he was under the firm hand of Brit executive Allan Leighton, a long-time Weston family ally. “It was me who said, this is the guy who should run the company,” Leighton told me in an interview in 2007. “He’s got all the cunning of his father and the charm of his mother, and that is a potent combination.”

Having interviewed a good many family leaders in my day — their prayers for family succession keep them awake at night — it seemed a stretch that Weston Senior would need any prodding in this regard. Then again, Loblaws had posted a $219 million loss in 2006 and was fighting to fix a deeply dysfunctional distribution system and an overly burdened organizational structure. The stores became renowned for empty SKUs affixed with exasperating “Out of Stock” signs. A “100 day Review” had been launched and a new mantra adopted: “Make Loblaw the Best Again.”

The best years, at least as far as the consumer was concerned, were the gold dust years in which Galen Senior brought Dave Nichol on board as director of corporate development-turned-pitchman and Don Watt the design guy came along and President’s Choice was born. The Insider’s Report was a hotly anticipated newsprint flyer pushing exclusive imports and tiramisu ice cream and 60 per cent double cream French brie. The products were distinctive, often decadent, and usually affordable. By extension, the grocery chain was imprinted with a clear, brand-defining personality.

The President’s Choice Black Label Collection, launched five years ago, is the antithesis of this, but that’s a small point. Galen junior appeared to gamely step into the shoes of chief salesperson, putting a family face to the company via television ads and his own Insider’s Reports.

The corporate rebuild has included bite-sized acquisitions (Ace Bakery for $110 million) and the giant acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. and its enviable loyalty program 2½ years ago for $12.4 billion, which was seen as a signal achievement for the younger Weston. The company’s “purpose” as it defines itself now is Live Life Well. So we see the natural intersection of food, nutrition and health as Loblaw touts its health care professionals, from opticians to pharmacists to dietitians.

The disconnect is in same-store sales, where food retail is close to flat while Shoppers, in the quarter ended June 18, reported four per cent growth. Complaining of feeling squeezed, Loblaw told suppliers last summer that it would be marking a 1.45-per-cent deduction on all shipments as of this month.

What does the consumer see? Yardage of produce and processed food and paper towels. A pharmacy in one corner. Perhaps a Starbucks kiosk in another, selling lattes in those nonrecyclable cups. A small presence for locally-gown produce. Packaged meats instead of a butcher. It is drudgery.

Yes, I am aware that some stores in the chain, strung with haunches of prosciutto di Parma, put on more of a show. But it’s also clear that the conventional model feels very antiquelike. Is it just me? I don’t think so. It’s time for the grocery store of the future, and one can hope that Galen G. Weston is the man to take it there. After all, there are few enough Canadian retail success stories. I still miss Eaton’s.

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Beauty Week is back at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto and it’s time to get glam



Beauty enthusiasts rejoice! Beauty Week at Hudson’s Bay is back in Toronto for another year. It’s time to stock up on all of your fall essentials and, maybe discover some new ones. 

From Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 27, you can expect a truly elevated beauty experience in-store with incredible special offers, limited-time gifts, and exciting activations. 

If you’re a diehard beauty lover, you’ll already know that Hudson’s Bay is the place to shop thanks to its extensive range of over 195 skin and makeup brands from both luxury labels and masstige brands — including Tata Harper, Estée Lauder, YSL, Nars Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, and so much more.

Throughout The Bay’s Beauty Week, visitors can take in some at-counter activations and interactive expert-led tutorials, where there will be chances to get makeup touch-ups from top-tier brands, try a spritz of the most alluring fragrances, and sample tons of new products.

This year’s Beauty Week highlight is the ‘Best in Beauty’ tote, a meticulously-curated selection of 30 deluxe samples from an array of top-tier brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm and Shiseido spanning skincare, fragrance, and makeup — all in a super sleek bag.

The tote, which is valued at over $300, is retailing for just $39 and is a fantastic way to explore new products (without breaking the bank). However, there is a limited quantity, so if you want to get your hands on one, you’ll need to be fast.

Wondering exactly what Beauty Week’s free gifts with purchases entail? If you spend over $95 at Lancôme, you will receive a six-piece set valued at $130. Or, you can get an Estée Lauder gift valued at $170 with purchases over $80. (And that’s just to name a few.)

If you’re a Hudson’s Bay Rewards member, you’ll also get $20 in Hudson’s Bay rewards when you spend over $100 on beauty.

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The Canadian Armed Forces are hiring for several non-combat military jobs



The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have several non-combat jobs, some of which do not require a college degree or past work experience.

Life in the forces has several benefits, such as paid education plans (college, university and graduate-level programs), 20 paid vacation days, health and dental coverage for you and your family, maternity and paternal leave, and pension plans. You can learn more about the benefits in detail here.

And to make it easier to gauge if you qualify, the listings also include related civilian jobs to see if it’s your ideal role.

Financial services administrator

Related civilian jobs: Financial records entry clerk, financial manager, accounting technician, bookkeeper, budget officer, cashier clerk, business planner technician, and verification manager.

Description: You’ll help budget resources for all military activities besides providing financial assistance.

Education: You need to have completed Grade 10.

Duties: As a financial services administrator, you’ll be responsible for bookkeeping and managing budgets. You’ll also provide support in accounts payable and accounts receivable.

Work environment: Those in this role work at CAF bases, on ships or overseas. You might also be expected to help special operation units, recruiting offices, schools, and medical organizations.

Postal clerk

Related civilian jobs: Mail clerk, mail sorter.

Description: You’ll provide postal services to members and their families at bases and establishments.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: As the postal clerk, you’ll handle mail duties.

Work environment: Besides a postal office, you may work on a ship or a mobile postal van. You might be expected to serve with Royal Canadian Navy, the Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force in Canada and abroad.

Dental technician

Related civilian jobs: Dental assistant, dental hygienist.

Description: You’ll be helping dental officers provide dental services to CAF members, their families, and dependents.

Education: Level II dental assisting diploma from an accredited college or a National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) certificate.

Duties: Those in this role will be responsible for various responsibilities, including disinfection and sterilization of dental equipment, applying rubber dams, placing cavity liners, and controlling bleeding. In addition, you’ll assist in laboratory procedures like creating casts, custom trays, and mouthguards.

Work environment: This role will require you to work in a military dental clinic, a Mobile Dental Clinic, an Air Transportable Dental System, or onboard a ship. You might be expected to work on a base in Canada or other operations in other parts of the world.

Human resources administrator

Related civilian jobs: Records administrator, data entry supervisor, receptionist, office manager, executive assistant, payroll clerk, and information management technician.

Description: Provide administrative and general human resources support.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: In addition to human resources administration and services, you’ll be handling pay and allowances, managing automated pay systems, and maintaining personnel records.

Work environment: HR administrators work at all CAF bases in Canada. They also work on ships and overseas to support the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, or Royal Canadian Air Force operations.

Medical assistant

Related civilian jobs: Emergency medical responder, ambulance and first aid attendant, registered nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, and hospital orderly.

Description: Successful candidates will help treat the sick and injured in CAF units. You’ll be assisting and supporting nursing and medical officers.

Education: Minimum of Grade 11 biology, Grade 10 physics or chemistry, and Grade 10 math.

Duties: You’ll provide initial care and essential life support treatments in trauma cases. You’ll help with health assessments (hearing and vision tests, perform basic lab procedures, etc.) and initiate and manage medical records and reports. You’ll also be expected to provide support and first aid during training exercises.

Work environment: Medical assistants may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force or the Canadian Army as part of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. Those in this role are exposed to the same risks as the forces they support.

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Porter’s new loyalty program promises to match Air Canada’s Aeroplan status



Porter Airlines is once again stirring the pot among Canadian airline rivals, now going after Air Canada’s Aeroplan members by offering to match their loyalty status to an equivalent of their own.

The beloved airline, which recently ranked as having the best cabin service in North America, challenged the competition for the second time this year, after previously deploying a similar tactic against WestJet in the spring. 

Earlier in April, Porter presented customers with a limited-time offer to match the loyalty status of WestJet’s patrons with VIPorter levels.

Now, they’re offering Aeroplan members to seamlessly transition to an equivalent VIPorter Avid Traveller status based on their existing membership tier.

Members can then take advantage of an array of travel perks that come with flying Porter, including seat selection, baggage, and flight changes.

For those currently holding an Aeroplan membership, there are two ways to acquire the Avid Traveller status for the rest of 2023:

Status-Based Match:
  • Aeroplan 25K members = VIPorter Venture
  • Aeroplan 35K members = VIPorter Ascent
  • Aeroplan 50K, 75K, and Super Elite = VIPorter First
Flight Segments-Based Match:
  • 5 flight segments = VIPorter Passport
  • 8 segments = VIPorter Venture
  • 17 segments = VIPorter Ascent
  • 28 or more segments = VIPorter First

Members will have to first submit their applications on Porter’s website. Registration will remain open until September 6, 2023.

In order to maintain their membership level through 2024, customers will have until the end of 2023 to reach the following reduced qualifying spend (QS) targets:

  • Passport = $500 in QS
  • Venture = $750 in QS
  • Ascent = $1500 in QS
  • First = $2500 in QS

Over the past year, Porter has launched an aggressive expansion strategy, including everything from introducing longer flights on newly-purchased jet planes flying out of Toronto Pearson, free WiFi, and a new all-inclusive economy experience.

With Canadians losing both Swoop and Sunwing as WestJet incorporates both into their mainline business, Porter’s direct competition is welcome to keep prices competitive.

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