Zyda Rylands, CEO of Woolworths SA, has a tough job at the best of times, but the pressure has intensified as the group becomes increasingly reliant on local operations to counter the dismal performance of David Jones in Australia. Group CEO Ian Moir is spending more time in Australia trying to fix David Jones after a number of high-level resignations and a R7bn write-down of that business early last year. In SA, Woolworths' food business remains solid despite the past two years of tough economic conditions. Sales continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace in the latest interim report period to December. The problem area domestically is apparel, where sales have declined for some time. The retailer reported a 2% decline in sales at its South African clothing operations in the 26 weeks to December 23; analysts attribute this to the failure to find a balance between attracting new consumers and keeping the old ones happy. Rylands says Woolworths went way too young, particularly in the ...

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