Company News

Irving Oil President Steps Down as Refiner-Marketer Searches for Successor

CFO to serve as interim leader as convenience-store operator launches strategic review
Irving oil convenience-store gas station canopy
Photograph: Shutterstock

Ian Whitcomb has stepped down as president of Irving Oil Ltd. The company described the move as a “personal decision.” Whitcomb will continue in his leadership role until June 9, and the refiner-marketer and convenience-store operator is undertaking a strategic review to select a replacement. CFO Jeff Matthews will serve as president until it picks a successor.

“I am grateful for Ian’s leadership of Irving Oil over the past eight-and-a-half years,” said Chairman Emeritus Arthur Irving. “Building on the strong history of Irving Oil, Ian has helped lead the company through a significant period of growth, working alongside a strong leadership team, hard-working, dedicated employees and loyal customers. And for all of them, I am thankful too. We wish Ian all the very best in the future.”

Whitcomb said, “I am very proud of our team and what we have accomplished together. I am especially grateful to Mr. Irving for providing me with this opportunity to have had the experience of working with Mr. Irving, Sandra Irving and Sarah Irving over these past eight years and for the mentorship to allow me, and all of us at Irving Oil, to be successful.”

He added, “Our whole Irving Oil team has worked to make the company stronger by focusing on safety, operational excellence and our customers, including adding significant growth in Ireland and New England and developing a strategy to guide Irving Oil through this time of energy transition. I have been very fortunate to work with an exceptionally talented senior leadership team and this team will continue in place.”

“The strategic review of the company is ongoing and outcomes associated with it are not yet clear,” said Maureen Kempston-Darkes, lead director of Irving Oil’s board of directors. “Decisions related to Ian Whitcomb’s replacement have not yet been made. Recognizing that the strategic review will be ongoing, Jeff Matthews, chief financial officer of Irving Oil, will take the leadership role in this process. Having joined Irving Oil more than 29 years ago, Jeff has a deep knowledge of our company and the evolving needs of our customers. The company remains focused on its people, sustainable, safe operations and serving its customers and communities.”

Saint John, New Brunswick-based Irving Oil is a family-owned and privately held international energy company. Founded in 1924, it specializes in the refining and marketing of finished energy products, and it operates Canada’s largest refinery, in Saint John, and Ireland’s only refinery, in Whitegate.

Irving Oil serves customers with more than 1,000 gas stations, convenience stores and truckstops, with a network of distribution terminals spanning eastern Canada, New England—including more than 335 c-stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York—and operates in Ireland under the Top brand.

In 2008, Irving oil expanded a partnership with Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., Laval, Quebec, to take on the operation of 252 convenience stores across Atlantic Canada and New England. Irving Oil retained ownership of the locations.

In 2023, the company launched a strategic review to evaluate its options to determine the future of the company. “Consideration will be given to a new ownership structure, a full or partial sale or a change in the portfolio of our assets and how we operate them,” the company revealed in a statement by Arthur Irving, owner, Whitcomb, and Sarah Irving, executive vice president and chief brand officer.

“No decisions have been made about where this strategic review may lead,” they said at the time, and the company has not announced any findings to date.

The Arthur Irving Family Trust completed a transaction in 2018 with the Jack Irving family in which the Arthur Irving trust assumed full ownership of Irving Oil.

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