Woolworths CEO resigns, Levi Strauss exec to replace him

Woolworths' CEO has resigned and Roy Bagattini, president of Levi Strauss' American operations, will replace him, the company announced.

South African-born Bagattini would officially join the company from February 17, 2020.

Current CEO Ian Moir will step down as group CEO and executive director on February 16. In August last year the retailer said that on the request of the board, Moir would move to Australia to oversee the turnaround at its department-store chain David Jones.

Under Moir, Woolworths has been forced to write off billions of rands after the company’s disastrous acquisition of David Jones.

At the time, the group said Moir was to work as acting CEO for David Jones while continuing with group responsibilities, Fin24 previously reported.

Woolworths' headline earnings for the financial year ended June 30, 2019 were down almost 5%, mainly on the impact of David Jones operations.

In its latest notice on succession within the company, Woolworths said Moir would continue as acting CEO of David Jones, while working closely with Bagattini to ensure a smooth transition.

Moir has been at the helm of Woolworths for the past nine years. He was first appointed to the board in January 2010 and then named CEO in November of that year. Prior to becoming group CEO, Moir was the CEO of another Woolworths business, Country Road.

Bagattini, a South African, was responsible for leading the company's largest commercial operations and a significant network of retail stores across the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Latin America.

"Roy [Bagattini] also played an instrumental role in the development and acceleration of the e-commerce and omni-channel capabilities of Levi Strauss," a Woolworths statement read.

He also boasts with experience in working in international markets for over 19 years, having been the president of Levi Strauss' operations in Asia pacific, the Middle east and Africa between 2013 and 2016.

Prior to joining Levi Strauss, Bagattini was president of the Asia and Africa operations of brewing company, the Carlsberg Group. He also previously held executive roles at SABMiller – both domestically and internationally.

"In addition to leading numerous merger and acquisition projects during the course of his career, he has also spearheaded the turnaround of several companies and successfully driven their growth and expansion," the notice read.

Commenting on his appointment, Bagattini said it is a "privilege and opportunity" to lead Woolworths at an ïmportant stage in its history". "I am excited about the tremendous potential of the Group and am looking forward to working with our talented and passionate people to elevate our brands, build deeper connections with our customers and, in doing so, realise this potential across all our businesses," Bagattini said.

*This article was updated at 13:15 on January 14, 2020, to include comment from Bagattini.

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