TORONTO — Supermarket owner Empire Co. Ltd. has a lot of work to do before it can regain customer loyalty lost due to mistakes made after its purchase of Safeway Canada, its new chief executive said on Wednesday.Focus groups suggest “we really did let them down” but there’s still loyalty to Safeway in the West that can be recaptured, Michael Medline told analysts. It was his first conference call since becoming the head of Canada’s second-largest grocery chain, which also owns Sobeys.“You’ve got to be priced right and that’s pretty basic. But I think we strayed away about talking about our overall value proposition,” Medline said.“Canadians should shop (with) us for a variety of reasons . . . and we got focused on talking only about price.”The former Canadian Tire executive said investors would likely only see incremental improvements in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter.How Sobeys screwed up Safeway in a messy takeover that left empty shelves, massive losses, and drove customers awayEmpire (TSX:EMP.A) reported a modest profit on Wednesday after recovering from a huge loss in last year’s third quarter, when its previous CEO oversaw a writedown involving its businesses in Western Canada.Excluding the writedowns, Empire’s earnings in this year’s third quarter fell by 58 per cent to $34.6 million. Its revenue dropped by $137.4 million to $5.89 billion.Medline said that company management has made progress on getting product pricing right and stabilizing the profit margins.But it needs to cut out costs further to improve margins and make the organization easier to manage, he said, without disclosing exactly how those goals will be achieved. He did, however, point to the company’s “highly regionalized” structure.“I can tell you, every single day that goes by, I realize that the current regional structure we have is very, very difficult to get things done,” he said.Based in Stellarton, N.S., Empire had $30.5 million of net income for the company’s fiscal third quarter ended Feb. 4, or 11 cents per share under generally accepted accounting principles.Irene Nattel, who covers Canadian retailers for RBC Dominion Securities, said in a brief note that Empire’s third-quarter results were “no worse than expected” and that earnings per share were above her forecast of seven cents per share.The stock closed up 4.7 per cent at $17.32 in Toronto.But the grocer was also hit with a downgrade by debt ratings agency DBRS, which lowered it to BB (high) from BBB (low) and maintained its negative trend, suggesting it could be cut even further. DBRS said the change reflected Sobeys’ underperformance relative to its peers, resulting in lost market share.A year earlier, Empire had a loss of $1.37 billion or $5.03 per share, mostly due to a writedown of the Safeway chain — which Sobeys purchased for $5.8 billion in cash in November 2013 to expand its presence in Western Canada.Follow @DavidPaddon on Twitter.17:42ET 15-03-17
The wife and stepdaughter of the Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers “barricaded themselves in a bathroom” while their luxury home in Glasgow was ransacked by thieves.The house was raided in the early hours of Wednesday morning, days after the former Celtic manager prompted a furious reaction from fans by agreeing to leave the club before the end of the season.His wife Charlotte and her six-year-old daughter were not hurt but were said to have been badly shaken by the incident at their the luxury home in the Bearsden area of Glasgow.According to Sky Sports, they were asleep when the intruders broke in and were woken by their voices. The thieves are understood to have entered the main bedroom and shone torches on the terrified mother and daughter before they took refuge in a bathroom.Police Scotland said the force received a report of a break-in at around 1.55am on Wednesday.The items taken during the raid are believed to include most of the medals and trophies the manager won at Celtic.One neighbour said: “It was a massive police response and to be fair they seemed to have arrived quite quickly but the gang had already fled. Charlotte was home asleep with her daughter at the time when they broke in. Some supporters continued to ridicule Rodgers on social media after the news emerged, while others expressed “disgust” at the raid.He led Celtic to seven consecutive trophies and collected Premiership, Scottish Cup and League Cup winners’ medals in 2017 and 2018.But he was subjected to vile abuse by fans after leaving the club at the end of February, with police investigating reports of supporters chanting in a pub that they hoped he died in his sleep “with a bullet from the IRA”.Fans also raised a banner during Celtic’s recent 2-1 win over Hearts, telling the Northern Irishman: “You traded immortality for mediocrity. Never a Celt. Always a Fraud.”Rodgers began his new job with the Premier League club at the weekend, and was not at home at the time.News of the break-in emerged following a series of violent and sectarian incidents at Scottish matches in recent weeks, with coins, bottles and flares being thrown and seats being torn up.Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s Justice Minister, has warned that football matches could be played behind closed doors if clubs fail to take action on sectarian and violent behaviour.He said ministers were looking at a model used south of the border in which the Sports Ground Safety Authority has wide powers, but added that strict liability, where clubs are held responsible for the behaviour of the fans in the stadium, “remains on the table”. “They might have thought the house was empty or, even worse, known she was home alone. It must have been terrible for her, especially with the wee one there.” Brendan Rodgers took charge of his first Leicester City game at the weekendCredit:Reuters Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.