Scott Fyfe made fifth David Jones CE in six years, Newsline

JOHANNESBURG – David Jones yesterday appointed its fifth chief executive in six years when it unveiled Country Road Group (CRG) chief executive Scott Fyfe as its new boss.

Fyfe is expected to take the reins this month from Ian Moir, who has served as interim chief executive for the past eight months and was responsible for Woolworths’ disastrous A$2.1billion (R25bn) acquisition of David Jones.

Moir is expected to leave the Woolies group after more than 20 years of service. He was CRG chief executive before being appointed as Woolies group chief executive 10 years ago.

Woolies chief executive Roy Bagattini said Fyfe had a proven track record of transformation and strategic delivery, having built a world-class team to re-establish CRG’s iconic brands.

“At CRG he has delivered market-leading online growth while optimising and repurposing store footprint. We look forward to Scott’s contribution and the application of his skills and expertise as we accelerate the turnaround of the David Jones business,” Bagattini said.

The group said Fyfe had been appointed following an internal and external recruitment process that was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the appointment of Bagattini.

Bagattini joined the group in February and is the former president of jean manufacturer Levi Strauss Americas, with a track record of leading retail, food and beverage stores.

Fyfe’s appointment comes as David Jones posted an A$33million loss as turnover and concession sales fell 6.4 percent for the year to about A$2.064bn. The group said major contributors to the decline were Australia’s bushfires and Covid-19, which affected foot traffic.

The profit margin fell 2.7percent than in the prior year, due to clearance activity in the last quarter to generate cash and reduce inventory levels and further markdowns.

Fyfe described David Jones as one of Australia’s most iconic retail brands and was backed by an exceptionally strong culture of commitment to quality and style.

“I look forward to leading the team and working with our many partners as we focus on the changing behaviours of our customers and delivering products and experiences for the future,” Fyfe said.

Fyfe was appointed as CRG chief executive four years ago, having joined Woolies with 20 years of retail experience at Marks & Spencer in the UK.

Lulama Qongqo, an investment analyst at Mergence Investment Managers, said it would be beneficial for Fyfe to work on getting David Jones to a point of sustainable profitability and to decrease the debt of the company.

“To successfully implement the strategy that Roy (Bagattini) has put forward would be a great achievement to begin with,” Qongqo said.