Woolworths, the upmarket food and clothing retailer, has hired bankers to explore options for its Australian property portfolio, part of steps under a newly appointed boss to revive a business that’s been a drag on its earnings.

Woolworths has faced anger from shareholders after taking roughly R12bn in combined writedown charges from its department store chain, David Jones, in Australia since paying about R20bn in 2014 as part of ambitious plans to become a top southern hemisphere retailer.

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