Woolworths scraps CEO position in South Africa

Woolworths chief executive for South Africa, Zyda Rylands, will retire from the role from 30 September 2021, the group said on Monday (23 August).

While Rylands announced her early retirement from the leadership position, at the board’s request, she has agreed to stay on at the company until 2024.

As part of the move, the retailer said that it will not retain the Woolworths South Africa CEO role as it seeks to streamline its operating model.

Under the current model, the group has three chief executive roles – for Country Road, David Jones and Woolworths South Africa – operating under group chief executive Roy Bagattini.

“For the remainder of her tenure, she will focus her energies and her passion on leading the Woolworths South Africa foods business, which she has been instrumental in growing and positioning as an industry-leading food retailer.”

Rylands has served on the Woolworths board since 2006 and has held the role of chief executive since 2015.

In a trading statement for the year ending 27 June, Woolworths said that group sales increased by 9.7% on the back of improved trade performance and Australian property sales.

However, it warned that South Africa’s recovery during this phase of the Covid-19 pandemic had been set back by the onset of the third wave of infections occurring towards the end of the fourth quarter.

“The consequential level 4 restrictions have further dampened already-weak consumer confidence, which is expected to limit discretionary spend,” Woolworths said.

“Furthermore, the civil unrest and related widespread destruction of property will also negatively impact economic conditions, consumer sentiment and constrain our ability to trade in impacted areas.”

Eleven Woolworths stores were looted and severely damaged – nine in KZN and two in Gauteng.

“The rebuild and repair of affected stores are likely to take some time, following the assessment of the damage, and trading will be dependent on the resumption of supply, logistics, and operational activities at these stores,” it said.


Read: South Africa’s largest retailer reports growth – despite liquor trade setbacks

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Woolworths scraps CEO position in South Africa