Woolworths names new food and liquor chief

Woolworths appointed a Tesco Malaysia executive as its new director of Australian supermarkets and petrol.

Tjeerd Jegen, 40, will take over the role from outgoing executive Greg Foran, a 10 year Woolworths veteran who was overlooked for the CEO role in favour of one of his subordinates Grant O’Brien.

Jegen started his retail career as a management trainee with Royal Ahold in his home country, the Netherlands and is currently CEO of Tesco Malaysia.

Woolworths says he has held store operations, commercial, marketing and general management roles with three leading international retailers in seven countries. In addition to working in Holland, he held senior management roles for Royal Ahold in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. His last position in Royal Ahold was VP merchandising for the Central European region, based in Prague.

Jegen joined the German retailer Metro Group in January 2007 and was the CEO of the Romanian Hypermarket business based in Bucharest prior to joining Tesco in 2009.

He took on the role of COO for Tesco Thailand before his appointment as CEO in Malaysia early 2010 where he successfully grew the brand’s hypermarket offer and presence.

Woolworths’ CEO-in-waiting Grant O’Brien described Jegen as a “highly regarded and extremely experienced grocery retailer”.

“He is a thoughtful, engaging and motivated individual with a great passion for the business of selling and a very strong customer focus. I am confident he will be a dynamic addition to our supermarket team,” said O’Brien.

“Woolworths has tremendous depth of talent within its existing ranks and a key part of Tjeerd’s role will be to further develop the capabilities of our people at all levels. Whilst an external appointment might be viewed as an unusual one for Woolworths, Tjeerd is an exceptional retailer capable of adding significant value. His breadth of experience, particularly in managing both small and large format stores as well as developing innovative private label growth strategies will help our supermarkets business meet the changing needs of our customers.”

Jegen said in a statement he is “very excited to be joining Woolworths and making a home for my family in Australia”.

“Woolworths is a fantastic company with an enviable reputation globally as a leader in logistical efficiency, a great fresh foods heritage as well as a very strong internal culture of success. There is a solid strategy in place to continue to grow this business and I look forward to working closely with my future team to help realise more of its untapped potential.”

Woolworths said Jegen will take up the role when his current contractual conditions expire but has given no indication of the date beyond “by the end of this calendar year”.

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