By Andrew Starke
The Board of Woolworths Limited has today (April 4) announced the intended retirement of CEO and managing director Michael Luscombe and anointed Grant O’Brien as his successor.
O’Brien, who is currently chief operating officer, Australian Food and Petrol, will be deputy chief executive officer and chief executive designate until Luscombe steps down on September 30.
With 24 years of service, O’Brien has broad experience working across diverse areas of the business, including the development of the company’s liquor strategy.
The former shelf stacker joined Purity Supermarkets (a division of Woolworths Limited) in Tasmania as an accountant in 1987.
As marketing manager for Purity, he devised Australia’s first supermarket loyalty program – the Frequent Shopper Club – which is still going strong and, after being promoted to marketing & merchandise manager, developed a strategy for introducing liquor retailing to Woolworths’ Tasmanian business.
On moving to Sydney, O’Brien was considered a key part of the team that developed Woolworths’ multi-banner liquor strategy.
He was later appointed national operations manager – freestanding liquor in 2003 with particular responsibility for the expansion of the BWS chain and the establishment of Dan Murphy’s into new States and Territories.
Promoted to General Manager Woolworths Liquor in 2006, O’Brien oversaw the integration of the ALH group and created a shared services platform for all Woolworths liquor brands.
He also served as a Board member of ALH.
Woolworths chairman James Strong said: “We congratulate Grant on his appointment. He will be a highly capable successor to Michael and is extremely well regarded at all levels of the company, and known for his tremendous energy and determination. His depth and diversity of experience and strong strategic acumen has given him solid grounding to lead Woolworths into its next phase of growth.”