07/08/2016 11:36 EDT | Updated 07/08/2016 12:59 EDT

Sobeys CEO Marc Poulin Abruptly Departs After Huge Losses

Sobeys parent company reported a $2-billion loss.

STELLARTON, N.S. — The Sobeys grocery chain and its parent company say their chief executive and president has left the organization — effective immediately.

Marc Poulin is being replaced in those roles on an interim basis by Francois Vimard, the chief financial officer of Empire Co.

Poulin's sudden departure from the Empire organization follows a series of huge losses related to the acquisition of Canada Safeway as Sobeys expanded its position in Western Canada.

Sobeys CEO Marc Poulin, pictured, is being replaced on an interim basis by Francois Vimard. (Photo: Canadian Press)

Last week, Empire reported a $2.13 billion net loss for its 2016 financial year — mostly because of difficulties related to the integration of Safeway operations into the national grocery chain.

The normally profitable company, based in Stellarton, N.S., had earned $419 million in fiscal 2015 prior to a series of quarterly writedowns of its western business.

Sobeys paid $5.8 billion to acquire the Canadian assets of Safeway in 2013 — about a year after Poulin became president and CEO of the grocery company. He also became president and CEO of Empire in December 2013.

"On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Marc for his efforts and leadership as CEO over the past four years and, prior to that, for the important role he played in developing our Quebec business," said Rob Dexter, chair of Empire Co.


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