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Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci to resign after ABC interview

Brad Banducci will stand down from the role in September, the supermarket giant announced this morning.

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci will resign after eight years in the top job and 13 years with the supermarket giant, the company said in a statement to investors on Wednesday morning.

Banducci is set to "retire" next financial year, with Amanda Bardwell replacing him as managing director and group CEO, to commence on September 1.

Woolworths Group Chair, Scott Perkins thanked Banducci for leading a "remarkable turnaround" at Australia's largest supermarket.

Woolies CEO Brad Banducci.
Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci announced he will step down from the top job in September, following a bombshell ABC interview earlier this week. Source: ABC

"On behalf of the Board and all of the Woolworths Group team, I would like to thank Brad for his outstanding leadership and contribution," Perkins said in the statement released to the ASX this morning.

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"Brad has led a remarkable turnaround and transformation of the group... most importantly, he has built a team of amazing calibre.

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"Woolworths Group has been fortunate to have Brad as its leader and he has indeed helped us to be better together," Perkins added.

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci will stand down later this year after eight years as CEO.
Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci will stand down later this year after eight years as CEO.

Banducci's retirement announcement on same day as huge loss

Banducci's shock retirement comes on the same day Woolworths Group as a whole released its profit results. The group, which also owns discount retailer Big W, revealed a staggering loss of $781 million after the company booked a NZ$1.6 billion ($1.5 billion) writedown in the value of its New Zealand division and a $209 million reduction in the value of a stake in ASX-listed alcohol and hotels spin-off Endeavour.

Woolworths announced a 2.5 per cent rise in half-year profit to $929 million, based on a 4.4 per cent increase in revenue compared to the same period a year earlier.

Resignation comes days after bombshell ABC interview aired

The resignation comes just days after a bombshell ABC interview in which Banducci momentarily walked off the set. Facing a grilling from journalist Angus Grigg over allegations of price gouging and the deep-rooted issues with "Australia's highly concentrated supermarket" sector, Banducci walked out of the interview, exclaiming "I'm done".

The supermarket boss was facing a "pretty basic line of questioning" from Grigg when the CEO became ruffled.

"Rod Sims, the former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says that we have one of the most concentrated supermarket [sectors] in the world, is he lying?" Grigg asked.

Woolies CEO Brad Banducci and journalist Angus Grigg.
Banducci went head-to-head with reporter Angus Grigg over allegations of price gouging and an ultra-concentrated supermarket sector. Source: ABC

To which Banducci responded: "It's not true — it is not true", before he attempted to argue the industry is in fact "an incredibly competitive market". Grigg interjected saying: "I'm sorry, the former head of the ACCC says", trying to repeat the question before being cut off by Banducci, who interrupted to argue Sims had retired.

"I don't think you would impugn his integrity and his understanding of competition law [because he's retired]," Grigg shot back.

Banducci then asked, "Can we take that out? Is that OK?" He went on to say, "I shouldn't have said that" before asking for the footage to be cut from the show.

Banducci praised as price-gouging inquiry continues

In this morning's statement to investors, Perkins branded Banducci as one of the group's "finest leaders".

"The test of any CEO is to leave the business in much better shape than when they started. On that simple metric, history will judge Brad to have been one of Woolworths Group’s finest leaders," he said.

Woolworths and Coles are currently facing a parliamentary inquiry into accusations of price gouging, a practice Banducci denied.

"When a supplier asks for a price increase, we would like to engage to make sure it's based on true cost increases. And so we are very keen to make sure we don't pass on anything more to our customers than is required," he told Four Corners. "There are many things that go and drive the delivery of that result. It's a lot of hardworking productivity and investment."

Under Banducci's leadership the supermarket giant, Australia's largest, recorded multi-billion dollar profits in the last financial year. Woolworths posted a whopping $1.62bn after-tax profit for in the 12 months to June 2023, up 4.6 per cent.

Who is the new Woolworths CEO, Amanda Bardwell?

Amanda Bardwell will replace Banducci as Woolworths CEO, following an "extensive international search".

Bardwell was appointed the managing director of WooliesX in May 2017, which includes Woolworths Digital and Media, B2C eCommerce and Everyday Rewards.

Amanda Bardwell, pictured right.
Amanda Bardwell, right, will take over the top job. Source: AAP (PR IMAGE)

Perkins called her a "proven leader, business builder and modern retailer", with WooliesX growing into a $7 billion business under her leadership.

"Amanda is highly respected throughout the organisation and I know, like Brad, will live our purpose and work hard to achieve Woolworths Group’s full potential," Perkins said.

Bardwell started her retail career in Queensland, working for a food retail franchise for five years before joining Woolworths in 2001. She has worked across the company's supermarket and drinks businesses, holding general management and senior executive roles across the business.

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