Canadian Tire Ousts CEO Medline, Brings Back Wetmore

Canadian Tire Corp. ousted Chief Executive Officer Michael Medline, replacing him with former CEO Stephen Wetmore, who led the Canadian retailer for five years.

“The board has taken a unanimous decision to change the leadership of the company at a time of unprecedented change in the retail industry,” Maureen Sabia, chairman of the 93-year-old retailer that sells everything from toasters to autoparts, said in a statement Wednesday.

Medline has been with the retailer for 15 years and took over as CEO on Dec. 1, 2014, replacing Wetmore, who became deputy chairman at the time. Shares of the Toronto-based company gained about 10 percent since then after soaring 141 percent under Wetmore’s leadership. The shares fell 2.9 percent to C$140.06 at 10:03 a.m. in Toronto for a market value of C$10.3 billion ($7.9 billion).

“Every day our customers are demanding more control over their shopping experience,” Wetmore said in the statement. “We must continue to rapidly evolve the Tire to exceed both our customers’ and our shareholders’ expectations.”

Wetmore previously led the acquisition of sports retailer Forzani Group Ltd., which owns the Sports Chek chain. He also accelerated investment in the company’s technology infrastructure and introduced a number administrative changes at Canadian Tire’s head office, Keith Howlett, analyst at Desjardins Capital Markets, said in a note to clients Wednesday.

Medline had been spearheading the company’s push into digital commerce and experimented with several home delivery strategies during his two-year stint at the helm.

The change likely occurred after Wetmore disagreed with direction of the digital strategy, Howlett said.

“Investors will likely be surprised by the news and may be immediately concerned that it may foretell weakness,” he said in the note. “Once the dust settles, our recommendation remains a buy.”

Link to Statement:Link

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