When Woolworths first bought shares in Country Road Group in 1998 the Australia-based retailer was slow to yield value, and as it deepens its expansion into Australia, industry analysts are questioning whether the South African company will be able to get any return on its investment. In 2005 Country Road constituted 8% of Woolworths' revenue, according to Bloomberg data. Twelve years later, David Jones, the 179-year-old Australian brand that Woolworths bought four years ago, accounts for 22.3% of revenue while Country Road contributes only 16%. An industry analyst, who did not want to be named, said this week: "The current management team that is going in there [Australia] don't have institutional memory. When Woolworths bought Country Road it was in the dark for 10 years before it turned the corner in 2007, so it took them [Woolworths] quite a while to sort it out and then that emboldened them to go into this market [again]." "The problem with this ... is a certain amount of hubri...

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