18 November 2010
The Weekly
South Africa

Ian Moir, the new chief executive officer of South African food and clothing retailer Woolworths, intends to open stores in more African countries and sell a broader range of products online to win customers. Moir took over the Cape Town-based company from Simon Susman today, after a decade as CEO of its Australian unit, Country Road. Woolworths operates in about 12 African countries and is studying several other markets for expansion. Woolworths sales doubled over the past six years as it opened more stores and expanded its product range. Sales rose 11% in the 20 weeks through Nov. 14, while sales at stores open at least a year increased 6.9%. Woolworths food stores compete with Shoprite and Pick n Pay Stores, South Africa's biggest grocery chains. They may also soon face opposition from Wal-Mart Stores, which has proposed buying a controlling stake in Massmart, the country's biggest food and general goods wholesaler. The greatest short-term effect for Woolworths from Wal- Mart's entry would stem from increased demand for workers, the CEO said. "The competition for talent and skill in this marketplace is going to become much greater." Woolworths intends to begin selling clothing on the Internet early next year, as well as offering its entire food range online.