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Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci steps down amid rising food prices

EditorOliver Gray
Published 21/02/2024, 10:38 am
Updated 21/02/2024, 10:38 am
© Reuters.

Investing.com - Brad Banducci, the Chief Executive of Woolworths Ltd (ASX:WOW), is stepping down from his position at the supermarket giant after more than eight years at the helm, amid rising concerns over escalating food and grocery prices. Amanda Bardwell, currently overseeing loyalty and e-commerce, is set to take over as CEO in September.

Banducci's departure comes as a surprise, especially as he is still slated to testify at a Senate inquiry into food pricing next month.

Banducci, who has been leading Woolworths since 2016, said in a statement, “It has been a privilege to be a member of the Woolies team and one I have never taken for granted.”

His exit follows a recent interview with ABC’s Four Corners, during which he criticized former competition commission chairman Rod Sims. After requesting that his comments be removed from the record and being denied, Banducci attempted to terminate the interview.

Both Woolworths and its competitor, Coles Group Ltd (ASX:COL), are set to face a challenging Senate inquiry led by the Greens next month. The focus of the inquiry will be the rising grocery costs, as some critics argue that these companies are boosting their profit margins at the expense of consumers. The Labor party has also called for a competition regulator investigation into the supermarkets, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese suggesting potential "abuse of market power."

Woolworths' food retail division reported a 5.2% sales increase, with prices "continuing to moderate over the half" and an average increase of 1.3% in the last three months of 2023. Despite this, margins continued to grow, with division earnings rising by 8.2%.

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However, Woolworths posted a net loss of $781 million for the six-month period due to a $1.7 billion impairment, largely associated with the New Zealand business.

Woolworths Chairman Scott Perkins praised Banducci, stating that he had "led a remarkable turnaround and transformation of the group". The company's shares closed 0.2% higher at $35.87.

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Latest comments

You omitted Woolworth’s decision to not market Australia Day merchandise which angered many Australians many of whom boycotted the retailer
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