Supermarket giant Woolworths today announced that Sally Macdonald has resigned as chief executive of the company’s troubled Big W stores after less than a year in the role.
The former CEO of luxury goods group Oroton joined Big W in January this year. She was known as a turnaround executive after taking Oroton back to profit in 2012.
She replaced Alistair McGeorge who was in the job only 12 months.
David Walker, who became the CEO of Woolworths’ Home Improvement businesses in February 2016, will transition to the discount department stores as acting CEO.
Walker has 18 years of retail experience, including a previous role at Big W in Supply Chain transformation.
Sales at Big W fell by 2.8% to $3.82 billion in the 2016 financial year. The business unit posted an EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) loss of $14.9 million largely due to lower sales and extensive clearance activity.
Big W competitor Kmart is a major contributor to its owner Wesfarmers. Total sales for the latest quarter were up 11.2% to $1.2 billion.
Brad Banducci, the CEO of Woolworths, says Macdonald had made material progress in restructuring the business, especially in the areas of direct sourcing, product development, supply chain, business simplification and cost reduction.
“However, despite these and other positive changes, it is apparent that the transformation of Big W will take three to five years to complete and, unfortunately, this time horizon is inconsistent with Sally’s expectation when she joined Big W,” he says.
“We look forward to continuing the momentum of change at Big W, with a continued focus on Big W’s long‐term success.”
Growth at Woolworths as a whole has stalled. The group posted a full year net loss of $1.23 billion, as the retailer exits the hardware industry, restructures and rebuilds its supermarket business.