A Woolworths Food store. Picture: SUPPLIED
A Woolworths Food store. Picture: SUPPLIED

High-end retailer Woolworths has appointed Christopher Colfer, a former CEO of Richemont’s Alfred Dunhill business, as an independent non-executive director, with effect from July 1.

Colfer, an Australian resident, will also serve on the boards of David Jones and Country Road Group, Woolworths’ subsidiaries in that market.

David Jones has struggled since Woolworths bought the chain for more than R20bn in 2014.

Its woes, partly attributable to a tough environment for department stores in the face of competition from online retailers, have weighed on Woolworths’s share price.

After reaching highs of more than R100 in 2015, the stock has more than halved to just R46.20, giving Woolworths a market capitalisation of R48.4bn.

In an effort to turn the Australian unit around, Woolworths has made a number of changes to its management in the country.

In June 2018, David Jones dismissed its MD for clothing and general merchandise, David Collins, just a month after Woolworths axed its CEO in that country, John Dixon.

At the time, David Jones also cut 15 more jobs at its head office in a bid to cut costs and stabilise the business.

Woolworths said on Monday Colfer is an “experienced non-executive director and former CEO”.

“He has extensive international retail experience and expertise in e-commerce acquired during his 30-year career in retail across public, private and start-up businesses in the UK, Asia, the US and Australia,” the group said.

Colfer joined Richemont International in 2002, where he headed textiles businesses Chloe, Shanghai Tang, James Purdey and Son’s, Old England and Hackett, “as well as various business development initiatives”.

In 2005, he took over as CEO of Richemont’s Alfred Dunhill unit.

He also led Richemont’s early investment in Net-a-Porter and joined its board in 2004, Woolworths said.

“After leaving Richemont in August 2013, Christopher has been active as non-executive director and investor in several Australian and international growth-focused businesses in cosmetics, skincare, clothing and e-commerce — including Lyst, the largest global fashion search platform.”

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za