Woolworths Ltd CFO Tom Pockett is to step down as the Australian grocer's CFO in February.

Pockett, who has spent 11 years as finance chief at Woolworths, will be replaced by David Marr, general manager of corporate finance at Australia's largest food retailer.

Chairman Ralph Waters said: "It has been Tom’s wish for more than 12 months to retire and the board prevailed upon him to stay during this critical time in Woolworths' transformation."

In the last year, Woolworths has sought to boost its sales growth in a fierce battle with Australia's number two grocer, Coles, which has outperformed its larger rival in recent quarters. Woolworths has also offloaded electronics business Dick Smith.

CEO Grant O'Brien, who took the helm in 2011, added: "On a personal note, I owe a great debt to Tom for the support he has given me since becoming CEO.  I have known Tom for some time but his sage advice and wisdom over the last couple of years has been invaluable to me and I thank him for that."

Marr joined Woolworths in 2011 after three years at Tesco, where he held finance and supply chain roles.

Show the press release

Woolworths Limited CFO succession

Tuesday, 26 November 2013: Tom Pockett has advised the Board of Woolworths Limited (Woolworths) that he will retire after 11 years as Chief Financial Officer and seven years as a Director.

Mr Pockett will retire as Finance Director on 1 February 2014 and retire from the Board on 1 July 2014. 

Mr Pockett will be succeeded by David Marr as Chief Financial Officer, who is currently the General Manager of Corporate Finance.  Mr Marr joined Woolworths in 2011 as General Manager of Finance in the Australian Supermarkets division.  His appointment is the result of a succession planning process that started more than three years ago.

Chairman Ralph Waters thanked Mr Pockett; “Tom has been a fantastic asset to Woolworths and has made a significant contribution to the growth of the business in the past, as well as playing a critical role in positioning the Company for growth in the future. 

“It has been Tom’s wish for more than 12 months to retire and the Board prevailed upon him to stay during this critical time in Woolworths’ transformation.  We thank him and wish him and his family well for the future,” Mr Waters said.

CEO Grant O’Brien said; “Tom’s financial stewardship has been pivotal to the Woolworths success story for over a decade.  Whilst he has been the Chief Financial Officer we have seen remarkable growth.

“More importantly, the structures he has put in place, the team he has built and the principles he has set in stone will ensure that Tom’s contribution to Woolworths’ wellbeing will go on indefinitely.

“On a personal note, I owe a great debt to Tom for the support he has given me since becoming CEO.  I have known Tom for some time but his sage advice and wisdom over the last couple of years has been invaluable to me and I thank him for that,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr Pockett said; “It has been a privilege to have been the CFO and Finance Director of this proudly Australian company. 

“I have worked with three outstanding CEOs - Roger Corbett, Michael Luscombe and Grant O’Brien.  Each was the right person for their time, and each built on the work of their predecessor. I thank them all for their leadership and friendship over the years. 

“I am delighted to be passing the role on to someone of the calibre of David Marr.  He is an eminently qualified successor and brings a wide range of Australian and international leadership experience to the role. 

“Finally, I am proud to have been part of the team that achieved excellent results and has undertaken major initiatives that have underpinned this growth.  I believe Woolworths’ best days are ahead and I wish Grant and the team every success for the future,” Mr Pockett said.

Original source: Woolworths Ltd