Executive Committee

From coast-to-coast, our business is led by dedicated leaders that share a common passion - food retailing.

Michael Medline

Michael Medline is President & Chief Executive Officer of Empire Company Limited (Empire) and its wholly-owned subsidiary Sobeys Inc., a leading Canadian grocery retailer and food distributor.

Mr. Medline is a proven leader with a strong track record of success in Canadian retail. He was appointed President & CEO of Empire in January 2017 after more than 15 years in a variety of senior retail leadership positions at Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC), including as that organization’s President & Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Medline began his career working with the Ontario Securities Commission in 1989, followed by two years practicing law with McCarthy Tétrault. He was Corporate Counsel for PepsiCo Canada before moving to Abitibi Consolidated Inc. where, between 1994 and 2001, he held a variety of roles including Senior Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development.

Active in the community, Mr. Medline serves as a member of the Board of the SickKids Foundation.  He is also a past Chair and current board member of the Retail Council of Canada. Mr. Medline has completed the Directors Education Program at the Rotman School of Management; holds an MBA from Raymond A. Mason School of Business, William & Mary; an LL.B. from the University of Toronto, and a BA from Western University.

Michael Vels

Michael Vels is the Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of Empire Company Limited and Sobeys Inc., a leading Canadian grocery retailer and food distributer.

Mr. Vels was most recently Chief Financial Officer of Hydro One, where he led that organization’s Initial Public Offering in 2015, laying the foundation for the transformation of Hydro One from a crown corporation to a customer-focused, commercial investor-owned electrical utility.  During his tenure the organization created and began to execute a strategy to reduce costs, improve customer service and increase efficiencies.  Mr. Vels was responsible for finance, information technology, cyber and physical security and regulatory affairs.

From 2004 to 2014, Mr. Vels served as Maple Leaf Foods’ Chief Financial Officer, where he led the company’s finance, mergers and acquisitions, information technology and communications functions. He supported the successful transformation of Maple Leaf as it implemented new systems and transformed its manufacturing and supply chains. In 2014, he was named Chief Transition Officer, leading the restructuring of senior management and back office functions.

Mr. Vels was educated and earned his Chartered Accountant designation in South Africa, and prior to joining Maple Leaf Foods in 1991 worked in public accounting and mergers and acquisitions in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Vivek Sood

Vivek Sood is Executive Vice President, Related Businesses for Sobeys Inc., a leading Canadian grocery retailer and food distributor.

Mr. Sood is accountable for a portfolio of businesses that are not directly focused on food retailing at Sobeys Inc., including Pharmacy, Wholesale, Convenience, Fuel, Liquor and the Big 8 beverage plant.

Prior to this appointment, Mr. Sood served as General Manager of Sobeys National Pharmacy Group, comprised of the wholly-owned pharmacy-focused businesses of Sobeys Inc.

A native of Stellarton, Nova Scotia, Mr. Sood has been with Sobeys Inc. since 2000. His career at Sobeys has included senior positions in Merchandising, Treasury, Investor Relations and Corporate Strategic Planning.  Prior to joining Sobeys Inc., Mr. Sood held senior roles with Scotiabank and the Nova Scotia Provincial Government.

Mr. Sood serves on Saint Mary’s University’s Advisory Board for The David Sobey Center for Innovation in Retailing and Services.  He is also Chair of the Neighborhood Pharmacy Association of Canada.

Mr. Sood holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Dalhousie University and a Masters of Business Administration from Saint Mary’s University.  He received his Chartered Financial Analyst Designation from the CFA Institute in 2004.

Pierre St-Laurent

Pierre St-Laurent is the Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Full Service for Sobeys Inc., a leading grocery retailer and food distributor.

Mr. St-Laurent is responsible for Sobeys’ merchandising, retail operations, and supply chain across the Company’s full service and community banners.

Since May 2017, he has been the exceptionally effective, results-oriented leader of the company’s strong Quebec business. Keenly focused on innovation, partnership and disciplined execution, Mr. St-Laurent’s track record and reputation as a merchant are widely respected throughout the industry.

Joining the company after graduating university in 1991, Mr. St-Laurent has spent his career at Sobeys and has developed a breadth of experience and extensive business knowledge through progressively senior roles in finance, distribution and logistics, retail operations, and business development. Prior to leading the Quebec business, Mr. St-Laurent was Senior Vice President & General Manager, Retail Operations & Business Development for Sobeys Quebec.

A native of Ste-Anne-des-Monts, Quebec, Mr. St-Laurent holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Université du Québec à Montréal and is a Member of the Board of the Fondation Charles-Bruneau, playing a significant role in key fundraising events.

Simon Gagné

Simon Gagné is Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer for Sobeys Inc., a leading Canadian grocery retailer and food distributor.

In his capacity as overall leader of the Company’s People, Performance and Development strategy, Mr. Gagné serves as the principal counsel and steward of Sobeys’ talent attraction, retention and development initiatives, as well as the organization’s succession and career planning, leadership development and people engagement initiatives.

A native of Matane, Québec, Mr. Gagné has close to 30-years experience in food retailing and in private and public transportation. Between 1985 and 1997, Mr. Gagné held a variety of progressively senior management positions with Cabano Transport in both Montréal and Ottawa and with the Montreal Urban Transit system (STM).

In 1997, he joined the Oshawa Group as Director, Employee Relations and in 2000 was appointed Vice President, Human Resources and Internal Communications, Sobeys Quebéc. In 2010, he assumed additional responsibility for the Company’s Distribution & Logistics function in Québec.

Mr. Gagné is actively involved in community sports and leisure.

Mr. Gagné has a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree from Laval University.

Doug Nathanson

Doug Nathanson is the Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Empire Company Limited and Sobeys Inc., a leading Canadian grocery retailer and food distributor.

Mr. Nathanson was most recently General Counsel at Canadian Tire Corporation, where he was responsible for all legal matters across the Canadian Tire family of companies, as well as all legal aspects of new business opportunities, partnerships and acquisitions.  He also served as Chief Human Resources Officer, leading the HR team across all business units and at various times, led Canadian Tire’s petroleum business and the corporate strategy group.

Prior to serving at Canadian Tire, Mr. Nathanson was the Associate General Counsel at MI Developments, Magna International’s real estate operating company. Earlier in his career, he worked in Toronto and New York at major international law firms and served as a clerk at the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Mr. Nathanson holds a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton University (High Distinction) and a Juris Doctor from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law where he won the Angus MacMurchy Gold Medal. He is a member of the Bar in both Ontario and New York State.

Sarah Joyce

Sarah Joyce is Senior Vice President, Ecommerce for Sobeys Inc., a leading Canadian grocery retailer and food distributer.

Ms. Joyce has end-to-end accountability for Sobeys’ ecommerce strategy and is responsible for the online customer offer and branding through Sobeys’ innovative Ocado partnership.

Prior to joining Sobeys in June 2018, Ms. Joyce was at HBC where she was General Manager of and Accountable for strategy and all aspects of day-to-day operations, she is a seasoned, strategic new-world retail leader with a terrific track record at the forefront of online retailing.

A native of Ottawa, Ontario, Ms. Joyce holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University and an MBA from Stanford University.

Sandra Sanderson

Sandra Sanderson is Senior Vice President, Marketing for Sobeys Inc., a leading Canadian grocery retailer and food distributor.

Ms. Sanderson will oversee the marketing portfolio strategies across all Sobeys brands and banners to transform the way Sobeys connects with customers through marketing. Her accountabilities include brand stewardship, insights and analytics, loyalty, and omni-channel integrated marketing.

Prior to joining Sobeys, Ms. Sanderson was Senior Vice President of Marketing at White House Black Market where she was accountable for leading and directing all omni-channel marketing efforts across more than 400 North American fashion boutiques, outlets, and

Ms. Sanderson is one of the most experienced and successful marketing talents in Canada. Prior to serving at White House Black Market, she was Chief Marketing and Quality Officer at Walmart Canada, where she led the marketing effort on the fresh food re-launch and was instrumental in launching Walmart Media Group.

She began her career as brand manager at Proctor & Gamble and has held senior marketing roles with many high profile brands including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Canada Post, and Shoppers Drug Mart, where as Senior Vice President, Marketing, she oversaw the growth of the Optimum loyalty program, led the integration of traditional and digital marketing platforms, and created the largest and most successful marketing campaigns in the company’s history.

Actively involved in the marketing community, Ms. Sanderson was on the Canadian Marketing Association’s Board of Directors for four years, and was most recently Vice-Chair of the Board. She has also served as Chair of Retail Council of Canada’s Senior Retail Marketing Committee and was on the Advisory Board of the Shopper Marketing Forum and Dx3. She has also been recognized as Marketer of the Year by Strategy in 2012 and was a winner of Canadian Grocer’s Star Women Award in 2015.

Mike Venton

Mike Venton is General Manager, Discount Format for Sobeys Inc., a leading Canadian grocery retailer and food distributer.

Mr. Venton is responsible for the Company’s discount strategy and leads the Merchandising, Operations and Marketing functions for FreshCo and Price Chopper stores.

Prior to joining Sobeys in January 2018, Mr. Venton was the Senior Vice President of No Frills Franchise Business and was responsible for the leadership of the 255-store banner – the fastest growing business at Loblaw Companies Limited.

Mr. Venton is one of the most experienced and successful discount leaders in Canada, he has an impressive resume with more than 30 years’ experience in grocery retail. Holding progressively senior roles in operations, merchandising and marketing, Mr. Venton consistently exceeded sales and profit expectations and led major strategic initiatives.

Mr. Venton holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfred Laurier University and has pursued continuing education opportunities including the Executive Marketing program at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario and Competitive Strategy through Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Vittoria Varalli

Vittoria Varalli is Chief of Staff, Office of the CEO for Sobeys Inc., a leading Canadian grocery retailer and food distributor.

Vittoria is accountable for researching and developing Board and Executive Committee materials, facilitating the flow of information across initiatives and functions and completing work that advances the company’s priorities.

Vittoria began her career as a lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom where she developed expertise in complex corporate transactions, corporate governance and securities law.

Prior to joining Sobeys Inc, Vittoria worked in BCG’s Financial Services and Consumer Retail consulting practices.

Vittoria serves as a board member of the Pink Pearl Foundation and the United Nations Association in Canada.

Vittoria holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association.