What's going on at Woolworths?

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 26 May 2015

After two top marketers left Woolworths in two weeks, questions are being asked about what's going on at the supermarket giant.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting this morning that Penny Winn, director of group retail services, is leaving the supermarket giant to pursue a career as a non-executive director and that Emma Gray, Woolworths' chief loyalty and data officer, was also planning to step down from the retailer.

While Woolworths wouldn't confirm the news to the SMH or to AdNews, AdNews understands that these latest moves are apart of a greater restructure of the marketing department as Woolworths aims to make $500 million dollars worth of savings over the next financial year.

Last week the company's director customer, brand and format, Jess Gill, decided to leave the business. She quickly followed Woolworths CMO, Tony Phillips who left Woolworths after just 15 months into his role.

In a statement to the ASX made earlier this month, Woolworths CEO, Grant O’Brien, said the entire team was committed to doing what it takes to maintain and improve its position as Australia’s leading retailer.

“Woolworths is a strong business with lots of growth potential, and we are absolutely aware of the challenges we face to realise that potential,” O’Brien said.

“We place the customer at the centre of everything we do, and have updated our operating model to reflect evolving customer expectations.”

“Our Lean Retail model builds on our historical approach of driving growth via seeking efficiency and investing in our customers but with a clear recognition that the approach needs to be tailored to a modern era.”

This is not the first time the revolving door has spun at Woolworths, with Kurt Kamp, the most senior marketing figure at Woolworths Limited, leaving the business after just a year in 2013.

While the current spell of departures could point to cost cutting, it could be apart of a greater transformation of the business, which could be being led by former Bauer Media CEO, Matthew Stanton who took up the role of chief transformation officer at Woolworths.

It is understood Stanton's remit involves working on Woolworth's Mercury Two plan. A plan that aims to transform not just the food arm, but also all offerings through out the group. A focus will be streaming the online shopping experience across the group.

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