Woolworths Holdings Limited (JSE:WHL)(“WHL” or “Woolworths”) today announced a number of senior management changes in Australia that follow the completion of WHL’s acquisition of David Jones Ltd (“David Jones”) and its buy out of the minority interests in Country Road Limited (“Country Road”).
Paul Zahra has taken the decision to resign with immediate effect as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of David Jones. Mr Zahra has indicated that this would be the best time for a change of leadership in the company and having established a sound base for future growth, would like to move on to new challenges. Mr Zahra has agreed to stay on for a period of three months to work with WHL management and Board in an advisory capacity and ensure a seamless handover of the business.
Woolworths is delighted to announce the appointment of Iain Nairn as Chief Executive Officer of David Jones with immediate effect. Iain was previously Chief Executive Officer of Country Road. He has 30 years’ experience in specialty fashion and department stores in Australia and internationally, and was the Chief Executive Officer of the Witchery Group before its acquisition by Country Road in 2012.
The new role of Chief Operating Officer has been added to the David Jones management structure and David Thomas has been appointed to this role with immediate effect. Mr Thomas also moves across from the Country Road Group where as Chief Operating Officer he has played a significant role in the integration of the Witchery Group before which he served as chief financial officer of Country Road Limited. He has 14 years’ experience in the retail sector serving in financial, operational and strategic roles.
Mr Matt Keogh, previously the Managing Director of Witchery, has been appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the Country Road Group with immediate effect. Matt has 25 years’ experience in specialty retail and hospitality management, and for the past 10 years’ has worked in senior executive roles within Woolworths in South Africa and Country Road in Australia.
In making the announcements, Mr Moir thanked Mr Zahra and acknowledged his strong stewardship of David Jones during a period of uncertainty and change. “Paul has done a great deal to create a strong and profitable business and provide WHL with a sound platform for future growth. I’m pleased that Paul has agreed to stay for a period to support Iain Nairn with the handover and we wish him well for the future.”
Commenting on his decision, Mr Zahra said the strong financial performance of the business, during the last 12 months in particular, along with the change in ownership, creates a natural exit point for him in the role of CEO.
"The past four years have been a time of great challenge and reward. During this period, we have transformed David Jones from a traditional bricks and mortar retailer to a contemporary Omni Channel Retailer.
"It has been a privilege to be the steward of such an iconic Australian brand with an extraordinary team of people. I look forward to working with Iain and his team to hand over the reins," said Mr Zahra.
Mr Moir said that Woolworths’ senior management group in Australia had an extremely strong local and international track record with the experience and capability to guide David Jones through a period of transition.
“The new management team will complement the existing skills and expertise at David Jones to create a strong, innovative and fashion-centric business. This means great product and brands, extraordinary service and a truly engaging experience for our customers. “David Jones is an iconic Australian business with great traditions and values and we look forward to taking it to the next level,” he said.
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