David Jones chief executive Paul Zahra resigns

David Jones chief executive Paul Zahra has resigned from the retail giant following its $2.2 billion takeover by Woolworths South Africa.

Zahra will hand over the reins to the company to Iain Nairn, chief executive of Woolworths-owned Country Road, in the next three months.

Matt Keogh, former managing director of Witchery, which is also owned by Woolworths South Africa, will fill Nairn’s role at Country Road.

David Thomas, who is chief operating officer for Country Road, is also joining the David Jones team in the role of chief operating officer.

Shareholders at David Jones approved the takeover bid from Woolworths South Africa in July.

Zahra posted on Twitter this morning “Today I ended my tenure at DJ’s. Acting as advisor during transition to new team – then looking forward to holiday & new career chapter.”

He has endured a rocky ride at David Jones, already resigning from the top job once before.

Zahra stepped down in October last year citing the “relentless” hours he worked as chief executive.

But then in March this year Zahra announced he had decided to stay on as David Jones chief executive. 

The pressure has been on Zahra from the start.

When he took the reins from former David Jones chief executive, Mark McInnes, the retailer was growing revenue and profits; the problem was David Jones; ‘culture’.

After claims of sexual harassment by one of his female staff, McInnes resigned, admitting he had “behaved in a manner unbecoming of the high standard expected of a chief executive officer to a female staff member.”

The incident sullied David Jones brand but Zahra brought a steady, level-headed style of management to the company.

It remains to be seen what will happen to David Jones after Woolworths sets about trying to transform the retailer.

Image credit: Flickr/evarinaldiphotography

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