Investors cheer Ian Moir’s exit as Woolworths hires CEO from Levi Strauss

Woolworths investors cheered the news that CEO Ian Moir will step down in a month’s time, sending the share price up almost 10%.

Under Moir, Woolworths has been forced to write off billions of rands after the retailer’s $2bn acquisition of Australia’s David Jones.

Moir, who will stay on as acting CEO of David Jones, will be replaced by South African Roy Bagattini, who is currently the President: Americas for Levi Strauss & Company.

Full JSE SENS announcement: Succession of Group CEO

Further to previous communications around the selection of a successor to the WHL Group Chief Executive Officer (“Group CEO”), the Board is pleased to announce that Mr Roy Bagattini has been appointed as the new WHL Group CEO and an executive director, with effect from 17 February 2020. Mr Ian Moir, the WHL Group CEO will step down from his position as Group CEO and executive director with effect from 16 February 2020.

In order to facilitate a smooth transition, Ian will be working closely with Roy and will also continue in his role as acting CEO of David Jones.

Roy (56), a South African, is presently the President: Americas for Levi Strauss & Company (“Levi Strauss”), one of the world’s largest brand-name apparel companies, and was responsible for leading the company’s largest commercial operations, including a significant network of retail stores, spanning the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Latin America. Roy also played an instrumental role in the development and acceleration of the e-commerce and omni-channel capabilities of Levi Strauss.

WORLDVIEW: Here’s why Woolworths CEO’s R191m package is all wrong

Roy has worked in international markets for over 19 years, following his South African based career. Prior to his present role, from 2013 to 2016, Roy was the President: Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa for Levi Strauss.

From 2009 to 2013, Roy held the role of President: Asia and Africa for the Carlsberg Group based in Hong Kong and prior to that from 1991 to 2009 held various executive roles in SABMiller plc internationally and in South Africa. 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 Chairman, Hubert Brody, said:

“Roy has extensive operational, management and turnaround experience in global consumer and retail markets, which will prove invaluable as we continue to navigate the structural changes taking place in the retail sector and the challenges particular to our Group. The experienced executive management team, under Roy’s leadership, will continue to drive the future strategy for the Group. The Board welcomes Roy and looks forward to his contribution.”

Woolworths also wishes to thank Ian for his stewardship of the Group for the last nine years where he oversaw a period of significant growth and transformation. Ian was appointed to the Board in January 2010 and as CEO in November 2010. Prior to his appointment as CEO, Ian was the Chief Executive Officer of Country Road having been appointed to that role in November 2000 after serving as Chief Operating Officer of the company and as a member of the Board of Country Road Group.

Woolworths hires CEO from Levi Strauss as Moir steps down

By John Bowker

(Bloomberg) – Woolworths appointed Roy Bagattini from Levi Strauss & Co. as chief executive officer to replace Ian Moir, who will step down after nine years at the helm of the South African retailer.

Bagattini, 56, will start next month, the Cape Town-based company said in a statement on Tuesday. He is the head of the Americas region of the US jeans maker, where he has worked since 2013. Before that, the South African held senior roles at brewers Carlsberg A/S and SABMiller.The shares jumped as much as 9.6% on the news, the steepest intraday climb in almost two years, and traded 8.1% higher at R52.08 as of 3:22pm in Johannesburg.Bagattini’s new role puts him in charge of a retailer specialising in upmarket food and clothing in its home market, where consumers are battling to overcome an economic slowdown and persistent nationwide power cuts have hurt business sentiment.

Moir, 61, led Woolworths’s expansion into Australia almost six years ago with the acquisition of the David Jones chain of department stores, but the deal turned sour and two write downs of the business followed, most recently in August last year.

The move “likely signals a desire to leave behind Australia distractions and refocus on domestic South African operations where the food division has prospered and clothing is recovering from operational missteps,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Charles Allen said in a note to clients.

Sales at David Jones fell during the 20 weeks ended Nov. 20, the last reported trading period, partly due to the impact of an ongoing A$400m ($276m) refurbishment of a flagship store on Elizabeth Street in Sydney. Moir will stay on as acting CEO of David Jones after stepping down from the top job, Woolworths said.

The company’s shares have declined 5.7% in the past 12 months, valuing the business at R55bn ($3.8bn).