Woolworths boss O’Brien quits and another 1, 200 staff go too

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th June 2015
Woolworths CEO Grant O'Brien has announced his own retirement.
Woolworths CEO Grant O’Brien has announced his own retirement.

Woolworths CEO Grant O’Brien has announced his own retirement.

The announcement comes after recent “disappointing” results for the supermarket group.

At the same time, the company announced that 1, 200 more staff from “non-customer facing support roles” would also be losing their jobs. This is on top of 400 positions recently announced as expected to go.

In a statement issued to the Australian Stock Exchange, O’Brien said it was time for someone else to implement revival plans discussed at the company’s Investor Day held on 6 May 2015.

“At the recent Investor Day we set out clear strategies to grow our business over the next three years and we have been working hard to execute these plans,” said O’Brien.

“However, the recent performance has been disappointing and below expectations. I believe it is in the best interests of the company for new leadership to see these plans to fruition,” he said.

The revealed plans are yet to make an impact on Woolworth’s profits  shares hitting $26.75 dollars on 17 June 2015, a drop from 28.14 closing price on 6 May 2015.

O’Brien has been with Woolworths for 28 years and has been in the CEO role since October 2011. He will stay in the position until the supermarket finds a replacement.

Alongside O’Brien’s retirement, Woolworths also announced that the Director of Group Retail Services, Penny Winn, will be leaving her role in November to pursue another career opportunity. Her position is expected to be filled from within.

The departures follows other recent ones from the Woolworths leadership group including Chief Marketing Officer Tony Phillips and Jess Gill, Director of Customer, Brand and Format.

Profit update

Woolworths has provided a profit update reflecting that May and June sales  have been disappointing with no improvement on April results.

The Woolworths group said it was impacted by the introduction of a new merchandising system which led to some stock availability issues.

In better news for Woolworths, the company’s struggling hardware presence performed well over Easter with sales increasing by 19.8 per cent for the fourth quarter (to date) for the 2015 financial year. Home Timber and Hardware saw growth of 21.9 per cent and Masters a 17.7 per cent increase.

Woolworths projects a profit of $2.15 billion (including $270 million of write-downs) for the 12 months ending 30 June 2015.

These write-downs include business transformation costs and a review of the company’s property portfolio, both outlined in the Investor Day on 6 May 2015.