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Woolworths Foods gets new CEO as Rylands confirms departure date

| On the move

By:  Helena Wasserman – News24

Zyda Rylands, the CEO of Woolworths Foods, will be leaving the company at the end of August, the group confirmed on Thursday (14/03/2024).

Sam Ngumeni, the group's chief operating officer, will take her place as CEO of Woolworths Foods at the start of July.

Ngumeni has been with Woolworths for 26 years and was previously CEO of Woolworths Financial Services, where he spearheaded the joint venture between Woolworths and ABSA. He has been on the group's board for a decade and also a member of the South African Rugby Executive Council. Ngumeni was one of the SA Rugby execs who was tasked to decide the fate of the organisation's controversial former chief executive officer, Jurie Roux.

In 2015, Rylands was appointed CEO of Woolworths South Africa – allowing Ian Moir, who orchestrated Woolworths' ill-fated David Jones acquisition in Australia in 2014, to shift his focus Down Under.

But in 2021, Roy Bagattini replaced Moir and the position of Woolworths SA CEO was canned as some of the Australian assets were sold off. At the time, Rylands was appointed as CEO of Woolworths Foods, but she also announced that she will be leaving Woolworths due to "personal circumstances" in 2024. Rylands previously served as managing director of Woolworths Foods from 2010 until 2015 and has been credited with the strong growth and success of the business.

In a statement, the Woolworths board thanked Rylands for her contribution to Woolworths Group over the past 29 years, and for the "significant role she has played in growing and positioning Woolworths Foods as an industry-leading, food retailer".

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