Woolworths Hits Back At Losses

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
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Woolworths chairman Ralph Waters has expressed his frustration with “impatient” investors who have complained about losses on the Masters home improvement business.

Mr Waters also defended the board’s decision to sell off the Dick Smith electronics business, which is now set to float under its new owners with a valuation much higher than its sale price.

Woolworths chairman Ralph Waters

Woolworths chairman Ralph Waters

The Woolworths chairman said the attitude of investors in Australia and New Zealand was “a little frustrating”.

“As a former CEO I used to suffer this as well,” he told shareholders at the retailer’s AGM in Sydney.

“I would go around the world and visit investors and the longer term vision of people overseas was quite starkly noticeable compared to the impatience of investors in Australia and New Zealand.

“We have just started a business from scratch that is only a couple of years old and has grown to a billion dollars turnover.

“Yes we’ve got a lot of start-up costs and we’ve got a lot of supply chain costs that are not yet shared by the ultimate number of stores.

“People are being impatient about a business that is two years old.”

Masters lost $157 million in 2012/13, more than the $119 million forecast by the company.

Earlier at the AGM, Woolworths announced its chief financial officer will step down after ll years in the job.

Tom Pockett, who will retire next February, will be replaced by David Marr, who is currently the general manager of corporate finance.

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