February 8, 2012 / 4:23 PM / 6 years ago

Canada's Empire says Sobeys CEO to retire

TORONTO (Reuters) - The chief executive of Empire Co Ltd’s (EMPa.TO) Sobeys Inc grocery store chain will retire in the spring because of a health problem, the Canadian company said on Wednesday.

Sobeys has started looking for a successor for Bill McEwan, who has served as CEO of Canada’s No. 2 grocer since 2000. McEwan will stay until that process is complete, likely early in the company’s next fiscal year, which begins in May 2012.

“We will consider all suitable candidates and are fortunate to have very strong internal candidates,” Empire Chairman Rob Dexter said in a release.

Canadian grocers are facing tough competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), which is expanding its grocery offerings in Canada.

The market will heat up further when Target Corp (TGT.N) enters Canada in the spring of 2013, but the impact on Sobeys may be less than on its rivals due to its agreement to supply U.S. discount retailer Target with groceries.

Reporting By Allison Martell; Editing by Peter Galloway

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