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Woolworths CEO Steps Down Amid PR Uproar

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By Published On: February 21, 20240 Comments

Just days after walking out of an interview on ABC Australia's Four Corners, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci has stood down.

In an announcement posted to the ASX on Wednesday morning, Woolworths Group revealed Managing Director and Group CEO, Brad Banducci, has given notice of his intention to retire and, by agreement with the Board, will leave in September 2024.

After 13 years with Woolworths Group, and eight and a half years as Group CEO, Banducci will be replaced by Amanda Bardwell as Managing Director and Group CEO, who is currently the Managing Director of WooliesX. 

Earlier, Banducci walked out of an interview with ABC reporter Angus Grigg, who said the walkout followed a “pretty basic line of questioning” about competition law. He was unwilling to answer questions relating to the proposed ACCC supermarkets inquiry.

Grigg had asked: “Rod Sims, the former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), says that we have one of the most concentrated supermarkets [sectors] in the world, is he lying?”

In defending the supermarket chain, Banducci rebuted that Sims was retired: “I don’t think you would impugn his integrity and his understanding of competition law. He retired 18 months ago,” he stated before requesting ABC removes his comments. When Grigg refused, Banducci walked out. 

Banducci confirmed in a LinkedIn post that his retirement announcement was unrelated to the events. stating: “This is a decision I have been contemplating for a while especially given it is literally 8 years since my appointment and as we go into the Woolworths Centenary and the timing felt right: not because I am tired or burnt out (I am as energised by our business and our potential as I have ever been) or am worried about the various upcoming price inquiries (I am looking forward to effectively representing Woolworths at these important forums) but because I think a leader should go before they need to and, more importantly, because I believe passionately in the amazing talent in our Group and it is time to pass on the baton. and the departing CEO had only kind words to say about the supermarket in his retirement announcement.”

The departing CEO had only kind words to say about the supermarket in his retirement announcement. 

“It has been a privilege to be a member of the Woolies team and one I have never taken for granted,” said Banducci. “We have a wonderfully talented and passionate team at Woolworths Group, as personified in Amanda Bardwell, and I look forward to working with Amanda and our team over the next few months as we set ourselves up for the next chapter.”

Woolworths Group Chair, Scott Perkins said: “On behalf of the Board and all of the Woolworths Group team, I would like to thank Brad for his outstanding leadership and contribution.

“Brad has led a remarkable turnaround and transformation of the Group. He has engendered a Customer 1st Team 1st culture, worked to strengthen existing businesses and build digital, eCommerce and analytics capabilities that are seen by our peers as world leading. Most importantly, he has built a team of amazing calibre. Woolworths Group has been fortunate to have Brad as its leader and he has indeed helped us to be better together. The test of any CEO is to leave the business in much better shape than when they started. On that simple metric, history will judge Brad to have been one of Woolworths Group’s finest leaders.

(updated)

About the Author: Rosalea Catterson

Rosalea is the Editor of Power Retail. With a keen interest in consumer behaviour and tech, she covers everything ecommerce and hosts the Power Retail Power Talks Podcast.

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