Woolworths CEO has now been paid R190m since a disastrous deal Down Under

Ian Moir (Supplied)
Ian Moir (Supplied)

Despite spearheading a ill-fated foray into Australia, Woolworths [JSE: WHL] CEO Ian Moir pocketed R23m in the past year. This brings his total earnings over the past five years to R191m.

The past year's remuneration is R7m less than the previous year, and he didn't receive a performance bonus as lower sales and profits from its Australian department store chain David Jones continued to hurt the group.

Despite a strong local performance from Woolworths, group headline earnings fell almost 5% for the year to end-June - due to David Jones.

Moir was appointed CEO of Woolworths in 2010, and championed the acquisition of the Australian department store in 2014 for R21.5bn. But the group has since been forced to write down more than R6bn of the acquisition's value. Continued investment in the underperforming David Jones has also increased the debt burden on the local company. 

In its annual report, released on Monday, Woolworths said the performance of David Jones had been disappointing due to the "poor execution of key initiatives" and the costs and significant disruption from a Sydney store refurbishment. In addition, customers are increasingly shopping online, leading to a reduced footfall in shopping centres.

In an interview with Bloomberg in August, Moir admitted that he may have gotten it wrong. “I regret the price, and buying it at that time - hindsight is a wonderful thing - but I think we have a great asset now.”

In the five years since the takeover, he earned total remuneration of more than R191m, following sizable payments in 2015 (R49m), 2016 (R53.8) 2017 (R34.7m), 2018 (R30.6m) and 2019 (R23m).

Last year, Woolworths’ Australian CEO John Dixon was made redundant, but the company's annual report shows he still earned R19.7m before he went.

While Woolworths represents almost two-thirds of the group's revenue, Moir will now be based in Australia to oversee the turnaround of David Jones.

The CEO of Woolworths South Africa, Zyda Rylands, was paid R12m over the past year, up from R8m in the previous year.

Woolworths food sales grew by almost 8% over the past year, and, in a surprising turnaround, it also saw a strong 8% increase in sales of its clothing over the past six months. This was thanks to a focus on core ranges and basics, backed by improved availability, the company said.

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