Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL) is delighted to announce the appointment of Zyda Rylands to the new role of CEO of Woolworths South Africa.  Zyda will take responsibility for the entire Food and Clothing business across South Africa and Africa.

This change now brings consistency to the WHL Group structure, with all of the main business units, namely Woolworths South Africa, David Jones and Country Road Group as well as the Group positions of COO, CFO and Group Secretary reporting into Ian Moir, Group CEO.

Zyda has worked in many parts of the Woolworths business including Finance, HR and Operations during her 20 year career with the business. Under her leadership, Woolworths Foods has transformed into a sizeable foods business with a reputation for quality, innovation and sustainability.  Since Zyda’s appointment, Woolworths Foods has seen 83% growth in turnover as well as a 240% growth in profit.

“Zyda is a talented and inspirational retailer and leader and has delivered consistently strong results as MD of our Foods business – growing both market share and margin whilst understanding and anticipating our customers’ needs,” said Ian Moir.

“This year has been transformational for our Group with the acquisition of David Jones turning us into a southern hemisphere retailer of scale. Ensuring each major business has a CEO who is clearly focussed and responsible for driving growth and profitability, will better position us to deliver our strategic objectives.”

Zyda Rylands said, “I am incredibly excited by this opportunity. Our strategy is clear in South Africa and Africa and I am very much looking forward to leading such an amazing brand and talented group of people.”



Notes to Editor

Zyda Rylands Biography

CEO Woolworths South Africa

Born and educated in Cape Town, Zyda completed a B.Com at the University of Cape Town and B.Com (Honours) at the University of the Western Cape. She then completed her articles at Kessel Feinstein and qualified as a chartered accountant in 1993.

Zyda joined Caltex Oil (SA) as a financial analyst.  During her 20 years at Woolworths, she worked as an audit manager and after 18 months she was appointed as Executive Assistant to the Woolworths MD. She then headed up financial accounting and corporate planning, played a role as financial executive for all of Woolworths stores and moved to Gauteng to head up a commercial division.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

In 2004 Zyda was appointed Director of People, and in 2006 Zyda was the first female executive director to be appointed to the Woolworths Holding Board as Director of People and Transformation.  In 2008 she was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer: Support Services.  Zyda is currently the Managing Director for Foods and was appointed into this role in 2010.

She has served on the Board of FirstRand and she currently serves on the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa Board.

In addition to her executive responsibility, Zyda is passionate about people, leadership development and transformation in corporates and in South Africa.  She is determined to give back and drive social development and therefore works with many NGO’s.

She currently serves as a non-executive director on the board of the National Urban Reconstruction and Housing Agency and the Centre for Justice and Crime prevention. She also served as chairperson of the Audit Committee for Parliamentary Services and as a non-executive director of the Black Management Forum and as a trustee of the Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence & Torture.  She served as a non-executive director of the Open Society Foundation of SA for more than 10 years.

Zyda has won various awards.  She was a recipient of the Impumelelo/BMF Top Ten Black Business Personalities Award and was a finalist in the Business Women’s Association of South Africa’s 2011 Business Women of the year award. In 2012 Zyda received the award for Best Women in Business and Government in South Africa in the Retail category.  This year Zyda was a finalist in the Most Influential Women in Business and Government in Africa.

Zyda continues to want to keep learning and in 2013 Zyda attended Harvard University and graduated from the Advanced Management Programme.  She also attended the London Business School in 2005.

In her spare time she loves travelling, spending time with family and does flowers for bridal parties.


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