Galen Weston Jr. blasted for tone-deaf email about No Name price freeze at Loblaws
Canadian supervillain Galen Weston Jr., CEO of Loblaw Companies Ltd. and fourth-generation heir to the Weston family throne, has once again caught the ire of non-billionaires across the country — this time with a self-congratulatory email announcing a temporary price freeze on No Name brand products at Loblaws and other retailers he owns.
"Let them eat this cake specifically"— Joe Boughner (@joeboughner) October 17, 2022
- Galen Weston pic.twitter.com/5R5fgEE5iC
"Galen announces a PRICE FREEZE for inflation!" reads a mass email that hit the inboxes of PC Optimum members on Monday morning.
The promotional message reveals that Canada's largest food retailer is "locking" prices on one of its house brands (the famously bare bones No Name brand) until January 31, 2023, in an effort to help offset the impacts of record-high inflation on grocery bills.
"Hi Everyone," reads the letter-style email, which is signed simply by "Galen" and featured one of the bespectacled oligarch's signature sweater portraits.
"Anyone who regularly visits the grocery store knows that over the past year the cost of food has increased rapidly. In fact, the price of an average basket of groceries is up about 10% this year… and almost 15% over two years. For some items — like butter, apples, soups, and chips — prices are up much more than that," says Weston, as though he's ever had to personally purchase anything from a retail store in his entire life.
"Maddeningly, much of this is out of our control."
Galen Weston, our hero and captor, single-handedly fights back against his own price gouging, stating “most [unfair price increases] are reasonable”, meaning some are unreasonable. Apparently it’s the suppliers’ fault, explaining Loblaw’s soaring profit margin. #greedflation pic.twitter.com/atsuJTX7Na— Ian Morrison (@IanDMorrison) October 17, 2022
"Your grocery bill is higher today because the suppliers who make the products we sell are raising their prices for us," reads the letter, which makes no mention of the fact that Weston's family also owns one of Canada's largest food processors and distributors.
"And, while we've challenged (and will continue to challenge) any unfair price increases, the truth is most are reasonable. Suppliers' basic costs are way higher than they've been in decades — no different than costs like the gas in your car, or your rent or mortgage."
Coincidentally (or not), Loblaw Companies Ltd. and other major grocery chains in Canada have been famously posting massive profit margin increases over the past few years.
Profits were up nearly 40 per cent for Loblaw alone during the first quarter of 2022, though the conglomerate credited medications purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart, which it purchased in 2013, for many of its gains.
Whatever the case, it's a bad look when our country's biggest corporate grocery chains are raking in billions more than usual while food bank usage spikes to historic highs.
Galen Weston, billionaire head of Canada's largest grocery chain, announces price freeze for discount company brand food in his stores citing supplier cost increases. In fact, grocery store margins in Canada have increased in last 2 1/2 years according to StatsCan. Nice try!— Phillip Blancher (@phillipblancher) October 17, 2022
"We know the cost of everything has gone up and now slowly we're seeing some of that go down, but the price of food has not come down; in fact, it continues to rise," said federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh last month when calling for a government probe into the rising costs of food at grocery stores.
"The clear trend is CEO profits are up; grocery store profits are up but workers aren't getting paid more, producers aren't getting paid more, and families are certainly having a hard time affording it."
"Bakery items — up 15.4% Fresh fruit — up 13.2% Pasta — up 32.4% Corporate grocery chain profits? $3.5 billion, while nearly a quarter of Canadians report going hungry," he later tweeted. "Corporate greed is cruel and it must be confronted with a windfalls tax forcing CEOs to pay what they owe."
Amid all of this chatter about artificially inflated food costs, and following years of controversy related to price fixing, screwing over minimum-wage workers and accusations of pandemic profiteering, Weston's little note about a three-month price freeze on his company's least expensive products was not well-recieved.
It was, in fact, quite poorly recieved, to the point that both "Galen Weston" and "Loblaws" were trending nationally on Twitter Monday morning.
"Got my 'email' from Galen Weston today whining about being unfairly criticized for price gouging. It's not his fault! Suppliers keep raising costs. He HAS to double prices to keep his boats, houses, car, etc! He's SUFFERING!" wrote one consumer of the billionaire's missive.
Did anyone else wake up to Galen Weston in their inbox telling them he sympathizes with rising food prices as if he isnt playing a massive role in raising them like fuck you pic.twitter.com/OJTPVIAP4b— KT 🌝 (@pantry_staple) October 17, 2022
The email from Weston, in which he brags about how "on average, no name prices are already 25% cheaper than comparable name brands," has inspired a new rush of hate against the already-maligned George Weston Ltd. and Loblaw Companies Ltd. chairman.
"Galen Weston is the most evil man in Canada," wrote one Twitter user on Monday morning.
"At least six months of inflation we haven't seen in years and Galen Weston offers that he'll continue to make the same amount from one of this many companies for the next two months as a blessing to the poors and we're supposed to be happy about it," commented another.
Don't shed a tear for Galen Weston. That 3 month price freeze is well-padded with over-inflated prices and comes on the heels of demands for an investigation into price-gouging.#cdnpoli #Greedflation #MonopoliesNeedToBeBrokenUp pic.twitter.com/Yon3wKQJyg— Meanwhile in Canada (@MeanwhileinCana) October 17, 2022
Some online are speculating that this three-month price freeze on already-inflated goods is supposed to be some sort of public relations stunt.
#Facts Don’t let Galen Weston’s message today fool you into thinking he cares about anything other than profits and shareholders. It’s just a clever marketing campaign for his No Name brand. #Loblaws https://t.co/lvKhOw1DwE— DCap (@DCapTO) October 17, 2022
"Galen Weston announcing a price freeze is, at best, laughable. Surely you can see through this?" wrote one Canadian. "Corporate overlord 'does you a favour' still making record profits... Corporations do not CARE about your well being."
Imagine being a billionaire sending out a press release that says "I'll freeze the price of the shittiest food we sell for 3 months. Bow down to me, your benevolent king" and the media just publishing it like "Yup, this tracks."— Julie S. Lalonde (@JulieSLalonde) October 17, 2022
Most critics seem to agree that keeping prices on No Name brand products, of which more than 1,500 exist, won't do much to help Canadians who are struggling with their grocery bills.
All can agree that it's weird for one of Canada's wealthiest people, a man worth billions of dollars, to send out a message containing phrases such as "...when you're worried about your family's budget and uncertain about how much you'll need each month to pay for food" and "...make a real difference in both your grocery bills and your peace of mind."
"We don't know when this will end, but we do know that right now every cent matters," reads the email from "Galen" (who now sometimes goes by Galen G. Weston in the wake of his retail magnate father's death).
"In the weeks ahead, we'll continue to lower prices here, in our flyer, and across our stores, all designed to provide immediate relief from escalating food costs."
So long as keeping the proles fed doesn't interfere with his roster of luxury vacation homes.
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