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How Woolworths is navigating SA’s morass: chatting to CEO Roy Bagattini

Roy Bagattini has led a strong turnaround at Woolworths, putting the group back on track and rewarding shareholders in the process. It didn’t come a moment too soon, with SA’s electricity crisis putting retailers under immense pressure.

There’s simply no margin for error in this environment or room for distraction. In this candid discussion recorded in March 13, 2023, the Finance Ghost picked Bagattini’s brain on a wide variety of topics including:

  • The denim strategy in Woolworths (hardly a coincidence given Roy’s background at Levi’s) and how the clothing business thinks about category leadership.
  • Bagattini’s global experience and why he continues to spend his time building a business in South Africa, when he could pick just about anywhere else in the world instead.
  • The strength of the Woolworths brand and particularly Woolworths Food among South Africans.
  • The immense challenge of load shedding, particularly for a business that has its cold chain as a key differentiator, along with how Woolworths is responding to this threat across alternative energy sources and replenishment strategies in the store.
  • The pricing strategy in Woolworths Food to make the products more accessible to customers, with targeted price investment across certain products or categories.
  • Consumer preferences in terms of online vs in-store sales and the percentage of the basket price that Woolworths believes is incremental to what customers planned to spend.
  • The economics of online fulfilment for retailers, with commentary on grocery vs. clothing retail and the usefulness of dark stores.
  • Why Country Road can win where David Jones failed in the Australian market.
  • Other geographical expansion plans for the group.
  • Trends in trading space across Fashion, Beauty and Home on one hand and Food on the other.
  • New store formats, including an expansion into liquor and other convenience formats.
  • Key focus areas over the short term for Bagattini and the broader business.

At a time when it’s easier to feel hopeless about South Africa rather than hopeful, it’s refreshing to speak with an executive who is bullish on the future without being blind to the challenges.

Listen to the discussion here:

Source: Finance Ghost

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