TORONTO — Operating income in the Weston Foods segment of George Weston Ltd. totaled C$10 million ($7.4 million) in the first quarter of fiscal 2019 ended March 23, down 9% from C$11 million in the same period a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA, meanwhile, rose 2.2% to C$46 million ($34.1 million) from C$45 million. Sales decreased 0.2% to C$516 million ($382.8 million) from C$517 million.
“Weston Foods has begun to stabilize,” said Richard Dufresne, president and chief financial officer of George Weston Ltd., during a May 7 conference call with analysts. “Management delivered on their plan in the quarter, the transformation program is delivering cost savings, and we are seeing improvements in operational metrics. More importantly, the team has improved on how it shows up to customers, and this has resulted in the company earning some new business in its growth categories.
“Our 2019 outlook for Weston Foods remains unchanged. As we look at 2019 for George Weston as a whole, the single largest opportunity for narrowing our value gap and driving shareholder returns rests with the continued strong performance of Loblaw and Choice, the stabilization at Weston Foods and the compelling long-term strategies of each.”
Luc Mongeau, president of Weston Foods, said the company has invested in sales strategy efforts and R.&D. capabilities, which has allowed the company to cement its relationship with key retail business partners and food service operators across Canada and the United States.
“In the last few quarters this has resulted in us winning significant pieces of business in our frozen business, mostly in donuts and in pies,” Mr. Mongeau said.
He pointed to two major trends in the market.
“The trends of better-for-you that we serve extremely well with our artisan product and a trend of growth and indulgence, where we performed well with our donuts business.”
Overall, George Weston sustained a loss of C$488 million, which compared with earnings of C$180 million, equal to C$1.38 per share on the common stock, a year ago. George Weston said the loss in the most recent quarter mainly was attributable to an unfavorable year-over-year impact of adjusted items totaling C$691 million, including the impact of the fair value adjustment of the Trust Unit liability. Sales increased to C$11,173 million from C$10,744 million.