The parent company of David Jones has appointed Country Road Group chief executive Scott Fyfe to head up the struggling department store after a recruitment process that was delayed by COVID-19.
South African retail conglomerate Woolworths Holdings announced on Monday afternoon that Mr Fyfe would take over from interim chief executive Ian Moir, who will leave the business at the end of November.
The 46-year-old Mr Fyfe has been the head of Country Road Group, which includes brands such as Country Road, Politix, Mimco and Trenery, for four years and prior to that had a 20-year career at major British retailer Marks & Spencer.
The appointment was significantly delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Woolworths Holdings starting the recruitment process in January after former Levi’s boss Roy Bagattini replaced Mr Moir as chief executive of the South African company.
Mr Moir’s departure marks the end of a 21-year career with Woolworths Holdings, which included a leadership role at Country Road Group and also 10 years as chief executive of the broader conglomerate.
His tenure was marred by an ill-fated decision to purchase David Jones for $2.1 billion in 2014, a price he later admitted was too much. Today, David Jones is worth less than half that amount after a number of write-downs and a run of profit declines.
In September, Mr Bagattini said the upmarket department store would accelerate plans to close some of its 40-odd stores after it plunged to a $33 million loss on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Fyfe said he still believed David Jones was one of Australia’s “most iconic retail brands” and noted his focus would be on the changing nature of customers. Mr Fyfe was responsible for driving much of Country Road Group’s online growth, something Woolworths is hoping he can replicate at the languishing David Jones.
“At CRG he has delivered market-leading online growth while optimising and repurposing store footprint,” Mr Bagattini said.
“We look forward to Scott’s contribution and the application of his skills and expertise as we accelerate the turnaround of the David Jones business.”
A recruitment process for a new CRG chief executive is underway, the company said. In the meantime, Country Road’s managing director Elle Roseby and Witchery and Trenery’s managing director Simon Schofield will jointly run the business.
David Jones chose to trade through the initial COVID-19 lockdowns in March and April, despite many of its retail rivals closing their doors, meaning it has not been as badly hit as other major department stores such as Myer.
Source: Thanks smh.com