The Weston Group of Companies

Cubberly, David; Keyes, John M.
Publisher:  Ontario Public Interest Research Group, Waterloo, Canada
Year Published:  1977
Pages:  4pp   Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX232

A profile of the Canadian bakery and its extended holdings across North America and around the world.

This research paper presents a profile of a Canadian bakery and its extended holdings across North America and around the world. It includes (1) a text sketching the growth and development of George Weston Ltd., (ii) an aggregate list of European, African and Australian holdings as of 1974, and (iii) a chart outlining all North American holdings as of May 23, 1975. At the same time, it exposes the domination of the Canadian food market by the Weston family.

The text traces the family history from George Weston, a Toronto breadwagon driver who founded a successful biscuit factory in the late 1800's. His great grandsons, Galen and Garry, are currently busy consolidating their father Garfield's prolific work of watching over a world-wide complex of companies with sales in excess of $7 billion. In 1974, the North American based Weston group of companies had sales of $4.7 billion, with Loblaw Companies Ltd. alone accounting for roughly $3.0 billion.

The article points out that members of the Weston clan remain bakers to this day but the parent firm of George Weston Ltd. serves also as a holding company under which clustered financial interests in as many as 244 companies. The immensity of the Weston empire and its means of growth through acquisition and takevoers both of related manufacturing fields, and the wholesale and retail market such as Loblaw Groceterias Company, are indicative of behaviour increasingly preponderant in our society. In addition, the authors note that the mammoth, diversified corporation and its concentration of power through market domination (its reason for being) stand more and more as a fact of social life.

Because of cult of secrecy by company officials, the extent of Weston's North American holdings and its links with the Loblaw group of companies were inadvertently stumbled upoin in 1966 during the investigations of the Federal Committee on Consumer Credit. At the moment of disclosure it was estimated that Weston interests handled about 23% of all of Canada's food sales.

The authors incisively observe that concentrated ownership by the coporate elite contradicts the prevailing free enterprise ethos which Canada, as a liberal capitalist nation upholds; yet it appears as a necessary upshot of the workings of the system itself. It is precisely as a means of eliminating the competitive pressures of the marketplace that Weston's monopoly control has so unremittingly developed.
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