Ultimately this site is a tribute to my mother who passed away from cancer on June 13th of 2007, days before my employment with Loblaws ended. If not for her I wouldn't have the passion about the world of retail that I do. On the day of her passing I sent out this e-mail that summarizes everything pretty well about her and what she meant to me. BEREAVEMENT
ABOUT THIS SITE AND ABOUT ME
Born out of frustration this site is a result of years of searching the internet for information on the food retailing industry. More importantly, it comes from a search for free information which is extremely difficult to find because everything about the business is geared at making money. Not that making money is a bad thing, it just creates a challenge for people like me who pursue knowledge of the food industry both professionally and personally as a hobby.
With this site it is my hope to create a single source for free information on the food retail industry that will appeal to those in the industry and maybe even the curious consumer. As for me, my name is Stephen Foster and professionally I have been working in the Food Retail industry for over 25 years.
Most of my career was with Atlantic Wholesalers Limited, a subsidiary of Loblaw Companies Limited in their retail stores and Head Office from 1988 to 2007. In my history with them I was able to progressively work in a number of roles that could best be called untitled over and above what the title of my position was including working with head office in developing and implementing standards for File Maintenance / Data Integrity, co-ordination and implementation of a Club Pack program with Head Office Merchandising that included advertising, merchandising and more, participation in test programs and initiatives and reporting on the same, promotional ordering systems and best practices training of Head Office and retail Store Managers, development of merchandising tools and forms used company wide, store refurbs and renovations and much much more.
For me, the passion for retail is the driving factor in going beyond what my titled position called for. On top of that, in my titled roles for much of my career with Atlantic Wholesalers, I was able to work with great people in a number of departments at a number of stores of all sizes; small, medium and large along with gaining valuable knowledge and experience in a term position in 2001 as a Reporting Analyst in the merchandising department of Head Office. After which I returned to the stores with my last store position as Grocery Department Manager with them being at their Barrington Street store in the city of Halifax. From there I transferred to the regional Head Office in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia a second time as their Planogram Coordinator for the Merchandising Department covering all of Atlantic Canada. In January of 2007 it was announced that Loblaws was centralizing operations out of Ontario and that layoffs in the regional offices would be a result of the restructuring. Unfortunately I was among those severed / terminated on June 15th, 2007 after 18.5 years of service.
While my release was not as cut and dry as it sounds, I am not able to speak to all of the events in the months between January and June of 2007 because I do not harbour any grudges against the company for doing what was right for their business on a general level. In those initial chaotic months of the national corporate restructuring a number of positive possibilities came up with regard to my career aspirations but at the end of the day for the good intentions of many with respect to my retention and for all of the conversations / interviews / discussions and meetings I had nothing changed the fact that June 15th remained the one constant through all of it even though as I understand it, my retention was somewhat in the works until the very last day.
Regardless of that and what I feel are legitimate complaints of the process and what happened or could have happened, the end result was the same so the best that can be said is that I have a great and unfortunate understanding of the confusion and turmoil that came from the Simplify, Innovate and Grow intitiative that were none of those pillars in practice during the initial key months. Given that there are millions of people who lose their jobs without severance or anything from it, I have no bitterness for Loblaws in that the severance they provided and the people remaining with the company were for the most part very respectable.
While I don't like the outcome of the Loblaw Companies Limited restructuring as it affected me, in knowing how the Food Retail World works, I have to agree that the new organization and centralization was the right direction for the company. I do miss Loblaws and from what I have seen and heard since then, they are missing people like me. Without intending to be overconfident or arrogant, it was their loss more than mine when my employment with them was severed.
After almost a year away from retail from 2007 to 2008 I was eventually able to start over as a Grocery Manager with Co-op Atlantic, a small regional Co-operative based in Atlantic Canada. By comparison to my Loblaw days it was a world of difference. The store was significantly smaller and the location was as more rural than urban but I loved the challenges of working there and both the staff and customers were great. In a business without the capital that Loblaws had to work with it was good to see the progression and evolution of a small retailer competing with the likes of Loblaws, Sobeys an Wal-mart.
In my years with Co-op my knowledge and experience became more and more recognized to where I was able to help out at other stores and work with Head Office personnel as they worked to shape the future of the organization to where in 2014 I was offered and accepted a dual role position as Grocery Manager at the store in Moncton, NB and as Grocery Business Analyst at Co-op Atlantic's Head Office. Both roles were somewhat intertwined with a focus on Operations.
Unfortunately, in April of 2015 after an internal audit, Co-op Atlantic made the decision to recommend the sale of the Food and Fuels Divisions to Sobeys and as I write this my future is again in limbo as I wait along with many other employees to find out if the deal will be approved and what it will mean for us.
Below is a quick summary of my career in the past 27 years :
I am by no means the most knowledgeable expert in all areas of the Food Retail World but one thing is for sure ; I am passionate about this business and the people involved in it. This site is meant to be a resource to share with all of them more than anything else. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for visiting !
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