McLeod to leave Wesfarmers for US-based Bi-Lo Holdings

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th January 2015
McLeod to leave Wesfarmers for US-based Bi-Lo Holdings
McLeod to leave Wesfarmers for US-based Bi-Lo Holdings

Former Coles boss, Ian McLeod has resigned from his position with Coles’ parent company Wesfarmers, accepting an offer to become President and Chief Executive Officer of Bi-Lo Holdings, one of the largest supermarket operators in the US.

Mr McCleod had previously stepped down from his role with supermarket group Coles in July 2014, to take up a position with Wesfarmers.

Coles doubled earnings under McLeod’s leadership

Mr Goyder said Mr McLeod’s new role reflected “the high regard in which he is held in the global retail industry”.

“Under his leadership, Coles more than doubled its earnings before interest and tax, helped generate significant shareholder value for the Wesfarmers Group and delivered Australian consumers better prices, quality and stores, further enhancing Ian’s credentials as a world class retailer,” Mr Goyder said.

“Since leading the turnaround strategy at Coles and handing over to his successor, John Durkan, last year, Ian has continued to provide leadership and highly valued guidance on growth opportunities for Wesfarmers as Commercial Director,” Mr Goyder said. “His contribution will be greatly missed and we wish him well on his return to the Northern Hemisphere,” he said.

McLeod led Coles ‘turnaround and transformation’

Wesfarmers Managing Director Richard Goyder said Mr McLeod had done an outstanding job in more than six years with the Wesfarmers Group, including leading the turnaround and transformation of Coles following its acquisition by Wesfarmers in 2007.

“We are disappointed to be losing an executive of Ian’s calibre and passion but understand the attraction of taking on a major new challenge in the world’s biggest retail market,” Mr Goyder said.

Bi-Lo Holdings is based in Jacksonville, Florida and is one of the largest supermarket operators in the United States through its Winn-Dixie, BI-LO and Harvey chains. It has more than 70,000 employees, 801 stores, 530 in-store pharmacies and 146 liquor stores in the south eastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Mr McLeod joined Wesfarmers as Managing Director of Coles in May 2008, and moved to the Group Commercial Director role in July 2014. He had prior extensive experience in British and European retailing including as CEO of Halfords Group and in senior executive roles at Asda in the UK and Walmart in Germany. He was also CEO of Celtic Plc from 2001 to 2003.

Mr McLeod will take up his new role at the beginning of March.

“I would like to thank Richard Goyder and the Wesfarmers Board for putting their faith in me to lead the Coles turnaround,” Mr McLeod said.

“At the time of the acquisition there were many who doubted such a turnaround would be possible and the challenges have indeed been great,” Mr McLeod said. “I am therefore extremely grateful to the 100,000 team members at Coles who have worked so hard over the years to overcome those challenges and, by putting the customer first, enabled us to grow to the point where over 20 million customers trust Coles with their shopping every week,” he said.

“Wesfarmers is fortunate to have strong leadership across its divisions and I would like to wish them every success,” Mr McLeod said.

Australian Food News reported in August 2014 that Coles, along with hardware business Bunnings, had continued to boost earnings for Wesfarmers, reporting revenue of $29,220 million for the 2014 financial year, up 4.6 per cent on the previous year.

Wesfarmers announced a solid increase in underlying profit for the year ended 30 June 2014, with an operating revenue of $62.3 billion, an increase of 4.2 per cent on the previous year, and EBIT of $4,150 million, an increase of 13.4 per cent on the previous year. The Group’s net profit after tax was $2,689 million, an increase of 18.9 per cent on the previous year.

Australian Food News reported in September 2014 Coles had announced it would continue its strategic focus on “value and quality” in the coming years.