JOHANNESBURG, Dec 19 (Reuters) – South African retailer Woolworths (WHLJ.J) said on Monday it had reached a deal to sell its upscale department store chain David Jones in Australia to private equity fund Anchorage Capital Partners.
Woolworths paid a hefty premium to expand in Australia through David Jones, part of former chief executive Ian Moir’s ambition to turn Woolworths into a leading retailer in the southern hemisphere, but overhauling the business is taking longer than expected, forcing the retailer to continue write down value units.
His successor, Roy Bagattini, was on a mission to improve David Jones’ performance by restructuring debt, selling properties and closing underperforming stores.
“The strategic rationale for the acquisition was not to the extent originally envisioned,” Bagatini said in a statement.
“While David Jones has successfully turned around, despite the impact of Covid-19, now is the right time for the business to operate under new ownership, while Woolworths refocuses on its core businesses of South Africa and the Country Road Group in Australia. “
Reporting by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Christian Schmollinger
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