‘Offensive, disrespectful, arrogant’: Why Woolies needs to get Banducci ‘out of the way’ now

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci seemingly did not win over anyone at this week’s Senate inquiry after what has been a chaotic few months for the supermarket giant, and now there are calls for him to step away immediately.

Following the Australia Day controversy, and a disaster appearance on ABC’s Four Corners in February, it was hoped that Banducci could save some face at the inquiry looking into alleged price gouging this week. Instead, the Woolies head was skewered by the panel, particularly Greens Senator Nick McKim, and even threatened with jail time for failing to answer what the chain’s return on equity was multiple times.

Appearing on a new episode of the Mumbrellacast, crisis communications expert Sally Branson slammed Banducci’s showing.

“It feels offensive that for one of the biggest retailers in the country, the CEO cannot be across the numbers,” Branson said.

“Now for me, that feels disrespectful… there is no bigger issue than cost of living. When it comes down to it, that is what matters in retail politics. To have the CEO of the biggest supermarket, one of the two top players, who can’t tell us their bottom line under a Senate questioning feels arrogant.”

Just days after the trainwreck Four Corners appearance in February, Banducci announced he would be stepping down as CEO in September, however, Branson said that should be pushed forward to now if Woolworths want to move on from the recent drama quickly.

“If I was introducing a new CEO now, I would be getting Brad out of the way as soon as I could,” she said.

“I would have Brad so far away from my Woolworths, and I would be focusing on a new era for Woolworths. I would be talking about my relationships with my suppliers and my farmers. I would be putting in, as my face of the brand, families. I would be talking about the cost of living.”

Amanda Bardwell, head of loyalty and ecommerce, is currently scheduled to replace Banducci as CEO.

Listen to the full episode here.


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