Woolworths shakes up its management

The pick 'n' mix retailer Woolworths has shaken up its management structure with a string of senior departures and new hiring, in an attempt to turn around its ailing retail operation under its newly appointed chief executive.

Woolworths has hired Robert McDonald, who was previously group finance director of the pub company Punch Taverns, as finance director and Simon Singleton as retail director.

The changes come just over a month after Steve Johnson became Woolworths' chief executive.

However, four senior directors – in addition to the two who left last week – are leaving the retailer. Stephen East, the current finance director, will remain at Woolworths for a period to ensure a smooth changeover for Mr McDonald, who joins on 3 November. Also heading for the exit are Colin Carter, director of property, James Collins, business development director, and David Roberts, the corporate finance director.

Last week, the retail and distribution operations director, Simon Turner, and the group head of HR, Claire Tiney, left.

Woolworths has created a retail operating board upon which will sit directors including Tony Page, the managing director of commercial and marketing operations, and Phil Streatfield, supply chain and distribution director.

Mr Johnson wants to simplify the business and create more accountable reporting lines, in an effort to make its retail business more responsive to the changes he is pushing through.

The UK's leading credit insurers have recently withdrawn insurance cover for suppliers to trade with Woolworths.