Woolworths to sack 500 staff, close at least 17 stores

WOOLWORTHS will dump hundreds of staff and shut more than 20 of its major Australian supermarkets as its top boss signals the company must do more in its war with Coles.

This is despite the supermarket giant predicting it will earn more than $2.5 billion for the year.

In a wide-ranging company statement released on Monday morning, chief executive Brad Banducci said Woolworths was making progress on what he called "turnaround measures" since his appointment in February.

Part of that program will include sacking 500 people from the company's "support office and supply chain".

This is expected to cost the company $35 million in redundancy payments.

On top of those, 1000 others will be re-deployed from the Woolworths group office and installed into its businesses.

This would "improve accountability and help us better support our store teams and customers", Mr Balducci said.

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Woolworths has 960 supermarkets across Australia and New Zealand, serving 18 million customers per week.

Of those, 21 will be shut down as soon as possible, despite all of them still having at least six years on leases. Woolworths is yet to name which stores are to be shuttered.

Another 20 supermarkets nationally are considered "underperforming" and may also be on the chopping block.

It follows the company shutting down three stores in the past 12 months.

It will also shut down three of its hotels.

Woolworths has also split its online shopping site EziBuy from Big W and will now look at selling off the website.


Woolworths will also put the handbrake on its growth plans, cutting the number of new stores opening from 90 to just 45 over the next three years.

Mr Banducci said since taking the top job at Woolworths, his goal was to have customers put the supermarket first, improve culture and "rebuild momentum".

Mr Banducci said Woolworths needed to change, if it was to prosper.

"While we have had to make some tough decisions and this has ramifications for many of our team, we are confident we are putting in place solid foundations for the future and early results give us confidence we are on the right track," he said.

"This will be a three to five year journey and we are determined to drive sustainable improvements in sales per square metre and Return on Funds Employed to deliver value for shareholders."


Woolworths has been approached for comment.

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