Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. After seven years at Woolworths (ASX: WOW), most recently as finance director of Australian Supermarkets, Martyn Roberts has accepted the role of chief financial officer of Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX: CCL).
He will replace CFO Nessa O’Sullivan in the role and CCA are no doubt pleased to have got him, after an extensive search. Roberts will support Alison Watkins, who took over from long-standing chief executive Terry Davis last year – and judging by Coca-Cola's full-year results, she will need all the help she can get. Before Woolworths, Roberts spent three years at The Apparel Group and nine years as CFO at Luis Vuitton.
What’s less clear is how Woolworths will feel about his departure. Since the departure of former head of Australian supermarkets Tjeerd Jegen last month, a number of other senior executives have left or switched roles, including Alex Dower, the supermarkets commercial director, and Mark Hewlett, the head of operations for fuel and convenience.
Of course these changes might just reflect the fact that group management is unhappy with the performance of Australian supermarkets and is building a new team to run the business around its new boss, Brad Banducci. But if that’s the case, it suggests the group may be more concerned with the business than it’s letting on.
Another possibility is that the management of the Australian supermarkets business is unhappy with the way that business is being handled, and/or that they’re unhappy with their new boss.
Either way, wholesale management changes are generally a sign that not everything is right with a business. Of course we new that with Woolworths, but it might be worse than we thought.
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