Woolworths: Australian grocery boss quits amid price-gouging claims

The Australian grocery chief walked out on a reporter when questioned over alleged price-gouging tactics.
Woolworths: Australian grocery boss quits amid price-gouging claims
Brad BanducciGetty Images

Woolworths boss Brad Banducci has announced his resignation, amid scrutiny over alleged price-gouging tactics used by the Australian supermarket giant.

The pressure on the chief intensified this week after what has widely been described as a disastrous interview.

Mr Banducci walked out on a reporter after bristling over the line of questioning.

Australia has one of the world’s most concentrated grocery markets.

Woolworths – the nation’s largest retailer – and its rival Coles control 65% of the market, and both have been facing intense criticism over their business models as the country battles a cost-of-living crisis.

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In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on Wednesday, Woolworths Group announced Mr Banducci would retire in September.

The 59-year-old has spent 13 years at the company, eight of them at the helm.

“History will judge Brad to have been one of [the firm’s] finest leaders,” board chair Scott Perkins said.

He will be succeeded by the company’s head of e-commerce Amanda Bardwell.

Woolworths Group owns an array of business across Australia and New Zealand, including discount department store Big W, liquor chain BWS, and the New Zealand grocery chain Countdown.

In the ASX statement, the company also announced a massive half year profit of A$929m (£482; $608m), in part thanks to growing margins on its food businesses.

However, overall the firm recorded a loss of A$781m due to write-downs in the value of two of its businesses.

It comes as the supermarket chain faces multiple parliamentary inquiries and another investigation from the nation’s competition watchdog over pricing practices.

On Monday night, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired an investigation which accused both Coles and Woolworths of price-gouging and unfair dealings with suppliers and farmers.

Four Corners reporter Angus Grigg spoke to insiders, experts, and the bosses of both supermarkets, and said Mr Banducci’s reaction was “startling”.

“That was a pretty basic line of questioning… and the fact that he bristled so badly when pushed on whether or not there was adequate competition in Australia tells you they’re not really used to having much scrutiny.”

Source: bbc.co.uk

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