Loblaw Companies Ltd. is offering customers a $25 gift card as a goodwill gesture after admitting the company participated in an industry-wide bread price-fixing arrangement.
How to sign up to receive it
Customers can visit LoblawCard.ca and enter their email address to be notified once registration opens. The company expects registration to begin on Jan. 8. Full details will follow. Registration closes May 8.
Who is eligible
Visitors to the site will have to declare that they are the age of majority or older. The age of majority is 18 in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, P.E.I., Quebec and Saskatchewan. It is 19 in B.C., New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the three territories.
They will also have to declare that they bought certain packaged bread products at one of the eligible banner stores in Canada before March 1, 2015.
Why the $25 amount
“This is our effort to respond directly to our customers, acknowledging ultimately our specific accountability in what was an industry-wide arrangement,” said Galen G. Weston, CEO. “We’re trying to go directly to our customers and let them know how serious we’re taking the situation,” he added.
Further comments: “This conduct should never have happened.” We hope that they’ll see it as a meaningful amount that demonstrates our commitment to keeping their trust and confidence.”
How much Loblaw expects this will cost
The company expects three million to six million people will receive the gift card. The company says it expects to take a charge of between $75 million and $150 million.
Might Loblaw have to pay up more?
Class-action lawsuits have been initiated against the parties involved in the price-fixing arrangement. Loblaw said it’s too early to predict the outcome of any such legal actions but said it would update investors when it had a handle on those potential costs.
Could other companies step forward with similar offers?
Confirmed parties who were part of the investigation include Canada Bread, Sobeys and Metro Inc. The companies say they are cooperating with investigations by the Competition Bureau. No consumer compensation has been offered.
—with files from Maclean’s staff