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Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci departs amidst financial turmoil

Woolworths (ASX:WOW) CEO, Brad Banducci, is departing just days after a blow-up in an interview with ABC TV program Four Corners, which examined grocery pricing. However, his departure is more likely a result of the massive write-downs the retailer revealed for the first half of 2023-24.

The write-downs, announced on January 29, were not a surprise. What did surprise was the conjunction of Banducci’s departure and the confirmation of the loss, overshadowing a 2.5% improvement in underlying net profit for the half.

The suggestion that Banducci left due to the TV story seems odd, as Woolworths announced Amanda Bardwell as his replacement, indicating a planned transition. Bardwell, who led the company’s digital arm, WooliesX, will be the 13th Managing Director and Group CEO.

Despite a net loss of $781 million for the December half, Woolworths reported a 2.5% growth in net profit excluding one-time items. Revenue grew 4.4% to $34.63 billion.

Looking ahead, Woolworths hinted at tougher times, with sales moderating at the start of the second half, especially at Big W, where sales declined 6%. However, transformation initiatives in New Zealand show promise, though full potential may take time to realize.