Former acting Coles MD to move on at year’s end

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 10th October 2008

Coles, in the early stages of a five year turnaround being orchestrated by a management team full of new blood, is set to lose one of their stalwarts at the end of the year.

Mick McMahon, the man who led Coles through its acquisition by Wesfarmers last year and represented the company during ACCC questioning as part of the Grocery Price Inquiry, is to step down at the end of the year, according to reports from Fairfax Media.

Currently in the position of Chief Operating Officer of Food, Liquor and Convenience at Australia’s second largest supermarket operator, Mr McMahon informed The Age that he liked the challenge of leading and, with the prospect of that never occurring permanently at Coles, he believed the time was right to move on. “I need a challenge and I like to lead,” Mr McMahon reportedly told The Age. “We have built the team around Ian (McLeod), and I’ve probably done about as much as I can at this point in time. There is no shortage of either challenge or ability to achieve things here (at Coles) but I think it’s probably time for me to move on and find the next challenge.”

The next challenge is unlikely to be at a rival retail operator.

Mr McMahon has been with the company since 2005 and was Chief Operating Officer of Coles Retail when last year’s November takeover by Wesfarmers took place. He was appointed into the role of acting Managing Director as the Wesfarmers Board searched for a suitable candidate to direct Coles through its turnaround process. When former Asda employee Ian McLeod took over the reins a few months ago Mr McMahon returned to his position as COO.

This year has seen a radical overhaul to the management team with a host of new blood, primarily from the UK, joining the team. Archie Norman, former Asda boss and now a consultant to Wesfarmers, helped lure former Asda colleagues, Joe Blundell and Gavin Parker, to Coles earlier this year in the positions of marketing director and store format development manager respectively. Mr Norman, who has dubbed Coles the “most exciting turnaround opportunity in global retail”, has also lured former managers from leading UK retailers Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

The former General Manager of the Woolworths-owned liquor chain Dan Murphy’s, Tony Leon, has also been enticed to the retailer – signing on as head of liquor last month.