Originally from Scotland, Ian Moir is the chief executive officer of Woolworths Holdings Ltd., a South African retail chain that extends throughout Africa and into the Middle East, trading through over 400 stores. These include franchise stores, offering a selected range of clothing, food, homeware, beauty and financial services (in partnership with Absa Bank) under its own brand name in South Africa, Africa and the Middle East. It also operates 613 petrol canopies, 326 hotels, 26 hardware stores and 31 Masters stores. The company’s revenue in 2013 stood at $59.56 billion.
Moir joined the company in 2010, succeeding Simon Susman. Prior to that, he served as chief executive officer of Australian retail chain Country Road Ltd, which Woolworths has a majority share in, where he remained for 10 years.
Moir recently rolled out a strategy of creating private label apparel for the David Jones chain in Australia, which was acquired by Woolworths. “Everybody seems to be getting quite scared about what we’re going to do about private label,” Moir told Australian Financial Review on Sunday.
“We are just as committed to international and national designers and local concessions as we’ve always been.” However, he went on to say, “We listen to our customers, everything we do is driven by the information we have on our customers. We won’t introduce products or labels or do anything that’s not in their interests that they don’t want and isn’t going to resonate with them. We’ll bring our most successful Woolworths brands from South Africa into David Jones, brands like RE: our denim brand and JT One and young leisure and lingerie brands. The customers will love them, they’ll see them as different brands, as new brands, as exciting brands. They won’t see them as downmarket. We have no intention of taking David Jones down market.”
“There are a lot of brands that don’t really resonate with the customer and don’t perform for us. You need to understand that we won’t do anything that isn’t driven by our customer,” Mr Moir said. “It’s what made us a successful business in Country Road and a successful business in Woolworths.”
Moir told Moneyweb, “I think our results are reflective of two things really, the fact that the upper end is more resilient but also the fact that we’re doing things that our consumer is really liking and they’re responding accordingly. So we’re actually taking market share both in clothing and in foods.”
Looking to Woolworths next move, Moir went on to say, “one of the things we are looking at is taking some of our sub-brands into smaller stores, into small standalone stores. We’ve just launched a pop-up store with JT One, our younger lingerie brand and that’s very successful for us. So I think there are some opportunities in that for us over the next few years.”
Moir has an MBA in Economics from the University of London.