Woolworths say ‘external events’ had no impact on CEO’s resignation

The Woolworths Group chair has insisted that CEO Brad Banducci’s resignation this week and the supermarket chain’s announcement of a replacement has been in the works for some time.

On Wednesday morning, Banducci announced that he will officially step away from his role in September, a position he has held since 2016. Amanda Bardwell, head of loyalty and eCommerce, will replace him as CEO.

The announcement came after he walked out of a Four Corners interview this week, after asking ABC reporter Angus Grigg to cut comments he made about the recently retired former ACCC chair Rod Sims, who he seemingly did not realise retired less than two years ago.

After Grigg reminded him he is on record, and urged him to move along, Banducci walked out of the interview, before being coaxed back to complete the trainwreck chat.

However, during Woolworths’ financial results media call today, chair Scott Perkins denied that the Four Corners interview had anything to do with the decision.

Banducci on Four Corners

“The timeline has been completely unaffected by the external events of the last couple of weeks,” Perkins said.

“Leadership development against an agreed chief executive profile for the future – that’s been a feature of our succession planning since I’ve been chair and even predating my appointment. So in the last couple of years, it’s been a real point of focus and there’s been an ongoing dialogue with Brad as to when was the best time for him and the best time for Woolworths for that succession to be really activated.”

Perkins said this process began in the middle of 2023, which followed with the formation of a subcommittee of the Woolworths board and that potential candidates were being interviewed in the back end of last year.

“I can be absolutely emphatic on that point. This process has been in train,” Perkins said.

“There was no change to the timetable, no expedition at all. We land today, where we thought we were going to land – able to announce CEO succession with these interim results.”

Banducci with incoming CEO Amanda Bardwell

The news comes ahead of a Senate inquiry into food and grocery pricing next month. Woolworths confirmed to Mumbrella this morning that Banducci will still front that inquiry.

Aside from the continuing charges of price gouging – Woolworths was the subject of three parliamentary inquiries in 2023 on cost of living, food security, and pricing – Banducci recently copped criticism for the supermarket chain’s refusal to stock Australia Day products this year.

Both the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition have also taken shots at him of late: Peter Dutton called for a Woolies boycott, saying Banducci was “peddling woke agendas” and “trying to cancel Australia Day”, while Anthony Albanese took aim at both supermarkets, saying “when people look at the prices that they’re paying off the farmers, and then look at what the prices they’re charging … people can see there’s a discrepancy there”.


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