David Jones boss Ian Nairn has quit

Photo: Bloomberg.

David Jones CEO Ian Nairn has made a shock departure from the job just a year after he took the reins and embarked on an ambitious turnaround for the 177-year-old retailer.

The Australian reports that the Scotsman, and former Country Road boss, who took the job following the department store group’s takeover by South Africa’s Woolworths Holdings, has left “in mysterious and unexplained circumstances”.

He is expected to be replaced by John Dixon, a 30-year veteran of UK retail chain Marks & Spencer.

Nairn was credited with turning around the struggling business after announcing last month a 28.8% jump in operating profit to $161 million in 11 months ended June 30, with sale for the first half od 2015 up 10.7%, the best growth in several years. DJs growth was double the figure of its now flagging rival Myer.

The company planned to sell two of its four flagship stores in Sydney and Melbourne, delivering around $300 million to reinvest in refurbishments and expansion plans, including smaller boutique stores, starting with a 1400 square metre space at Sydney’s Barangaroo, as well as gourmet food stores.

Woolworths bought DJs in August last year for $2.2 billion.

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