Woolworths We can’t hear you! Lalalalalalalalala!
Sometimes, an immaculately-cut suit is not enough to protect one from the hurly-burly of the AGM, activist shareholders popping up all over the show with a mad gleam in their eyes, and the franchisees in revolt. Or so Woolies found this week, when the shareholder known only as Mrs Gilmore, famous for her determined interjections, questioned the credentials of a couple of the new Non-executive Directors. And the franchisees, some of whom believe that Woolies is trying to squeeze them out, attempted – using impeccably procedural means – to have one of their own appointed to the board. There are 80-odd franchise stores, located in smaller centres, and contributing, say the franchisees, around 20% to turnover, a number Woolies disputes. There is a view that when their contracts expire, Woolies will buy their stores back into the business, something many of the 37 franchisees don’t want to see happen.
Comment: Swashbuckling stuff, in a week when Woolies also announced that it expected first-half earnings to drop 20% in tough trading conditions.