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  • Writer's pictureLeah Taylor Roy

AGRI Meeting FOOD PRICES

Updated: Apr 14, 2023


Thank you Mr. Chair, and thank you to Mr. Lale, Mr. Medline and Mr. Weston for being here today. Um, this, um, I, I don't have all of the emails printed out from, uh, the constituents with the concerns I've received, um, as I'm a bit of an environmentalist.


But I would say that my question will really be about the impact that this has had on consumers, um, and on your employees or team members as you like to call them, Mr. Medline. Um, and I, again, I won't go through all of the, the facts and the data given on your, how your profits have risen, um, because I think you recognize that, and it's been pointed out many times, however, you talk about reinvesting those profits and, um, you talk about building more.


Um, and we've seen that there have been increases in dividends to shareholders. Um, and while I don't fault corporations having a business background for maximizing shareholder value, I would think at these times that you could be reinvesting profits in different ways that might benefit, um, Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet and to help those team members that work so hard on the front.


Um, and one of the things that we noticed was how the hero pay was, um, reduced, um, by all, um, basically by all, um, grocery stores at the same time. And the freeze unknown name products was um, removed, and this was in the face of growing profits. So I'm wondering how. These complaints are, these concerns from our constituents, from Canadians in the face of Yourgo, prophets can be reconciled with those facts and what you can do to address those concerns.


And, uh, perhaps, uh, Mr. Medline, you can start. Thanks. And, and thank you very much for the question, Ms. Taylor Roy. Appreciate it. I'm gonna try to unpack this. , you, you talked about the team members. That gets me a little bit because I think they're on the front lines as they have been for now three years. Uh, they had to face, uh, the pandemic, then they face inflation and you know, a family is trying to feed themselves.


And, and, and, and the ends are tight because the mortgage payments are tighter cuz the interest rates going up. Grocers more expensive. They, they don't care about food. Supply chain and all the other niceties we talk about, it's. And our team members are on the front line and they're getting blamed. And, and I don't blame the people blaming and it's, but it's tough on our team members.


So thank you for saying that. Um, you know, and, and I do think that B business is balanced and you have to, I always talk about, you know, Mr. Sing, you talked about how much profits are too much profits, but. You have to make profits, but you have to make profits with values. And that might be different. We might have difference of opinion in that.


Okay. And we, and what, what that means. Uh, but you know, I do think that most companies are certain kinder capitalism than it used to be. And maybe capitalism for some people is a dirty word. I think it's good as long as it's kind in their values. Um, We in investing in balancing things, making sure people are treated fairly, but the CapEx we put in, we're putting them over 800 million in this year, creates jobs, constructing stores.


More people have jobs, more people have better paying jobs, and dividends are not a bad thing in my books. Okay, because. Um, a lot of people when they retire have pensions. A lot of, a lot of people in this country and we have to do, make some profits and pay some dividends so that they have something to retire on.


So it's all balanced. I can see some companies that are buyback shares. I think it's good. I think sometimes companies go too far and they don't balance it. Right. Our jobs CEOs are balance really. Yeah, I understand that. And I'm sorry to interject, but Tommy Short No, that's, so I No, that's great here. Thank you.


The other witnesses, but. Um, I'm not sure that balance is being met right now. As I mentioned, the $2 decrease in the hero pay, the, the, um, the removal of the freeze on new na, no name products in all of the stores when consumers are still struggling with food prices. So, sorry. I'm sorry to interrupt you.


You're still talking. Sorry. Yeah, so I, I've heard maybe now because a time is tight, Mr. Weston, you could comment on that and what more could be done to address these. , yeah, maybe I can comment on, on, uh, on the Noname price freeze, it was, uh, specific to our enterprise. Um, it was part of an ongoing effort. Um, you know, something that we've been doing for months before and that we continue to do today, um, to deliver value to customers.


Exactly. I think in the spirit of what you are asking, um, that program was real. It saved customers, uh, close to 45 million over three months. And if you look inside in, in our public disclosures, uh, that you can see from, from our fourth quarter, you can actually see the impact, um, of that investment and other investments on our overall gross margins as an enterprise.


Move it then when inflation, when prices, profits are going up, inflation, why you move that? So we, so we didn't remove it. Um, what we did was we, we announced that we were gonna do it for three months over the holidays. It was our belief at that time that for consumers having priced certainty, um, over the holidays would be the most important thing for them.


As we come out of the holidays, um, you know, there are other things that are more important to customers. They want deals, they want to be able to go places and get the best possible prices. So we took that investment part of that investment and are reinvesting it in lower prices, um, and new, uh, market lows.


Uh, you know, so we're beginning to see key items actually going backwards. So there are all kinds of things that we do on a day in and day out basis. The price freeze was one of them, and it's, we're not finished. We continue on. No, I understand. But respectfully, profits have been going up significantly, however you look at it, whether you wanna look at margin numbers and whether you wanna look at what segment, but they have been going up.


But it would seem to me that there was room to actually keep the price freeze in place, not increase those prices while having the promotions and the other things you're talking. Um, but I would also like to hear from Mr. Lale on this briefly as well, so we're at time, uh, okay. But, but, uh, in, uh, in trying to make sure that we hear from that witness, I, I have no problem dis giving some discretion.


Mr. Lale, if you'd like to answer the question, um, Our revenues have gone up, expenses have gone up, margins have not gone up. They've been stable for a long time, and food margins have actually declined. So, th those are facts. Um, we, uh, we work extremely hard, all our teams do to provide value to our customers every day in all of our banners.


We have very competitive prices, very compelling promotions, uh, full, uh, range of private label products. So again, we work really hard to deliver value to our customers. And, uh, Those are just the facts. Thank you, Ms. Taylor Roy.

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