It was hardly surprising that Thursday’s announcement that David Thomas, CEO of Woolworths’ Australian folly David Jones, has resigned for personal reasons had a chilling affect on investor sentiment. Thomas was the man tasked with stopping the rot at the Australian department store; in that role he was leading the incredibly extravagant A$200m refurbishment of the retailer’s flagship store in Elizabeth Street in the heart of Sydney. Remarkably the A$200m was being spent in a bid to spare Woolworths from further write-offs of its R21bn investment. Just 12 months ago the group announced it was writing off a third of that investment. Thursday’s announcement may have prompted some shareholders to recall comments by the chair at the AGM in November that there was no certainty there would not be further write-offs. Thomas was at the helm for only two years; the new CEO, who has yet to be appointed, will be the fourth since Woolworths acquired the troubled Australian business in 2014. T...

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