Coles acquisition greatest achievement for Goyder

08 September, 2017

Outgoing Wesfarmers Managing Director Richard Goyder says there’s not been a day with the company that he hasn’t jumped out of bed looking forward to going to work.

He says that’s his advice to young leaders: find a job you’re going to love.

Hear more of Goyder’s tips at the CCI Lighthouse Leadership series event on September 12

Goyder says it’s hard to pinpoint the most satisfying thing he’s done in his almost 25-year career with one of the largest private companies in Australia, of which he’s been Managing Director and CEO since 2005.

“I'd have to say 2007 was a huge year in terms of the acquisition of Coles.  But also the points in the road further down when we started turning that business around,” he says. 

“The transformation of Kmart have just been really gratifying, because most people said it couldn't be done.

“Most people wouldn’t understand but if we hadn’t bought Coles back in 2007, it probably would have gone to private equity and that was followed by the Global Financial Crisis and so Coles today would be a shadow of itself because the owners would have had no money to spend on it and the retail landscape would be totally different. 

“So I also think we did the Australian community a big favour in taking on Coles.  And the thing that enabled us to do Coles was our reputation.”

Goyder says in many ways, he hopes Wesfarmers is the same sort of company he joined in 1993, despite changes not only to the company but also to the way in which it operates.

“Where I hope we are the same is that we started life as a farmers co-operative and we’re still deeply embedded in the communities in which we operate, we have got a culture which looks after people whether they are our customers, our suppliers, our employees or the communities in which we operate,” he says.

“But we have to be agile and fleet footed in a fast-moving world. The Coles acquisition gave us an opportunity to bring a business that was mostly underperforming into the group, bring some great talent with it, put some great talent into it, and build Wesfarmers into a larger company, but still with those cultural values that are important to the Group.”

“As I reflect on my time at Wesfarmers, I’m really gratified to have had opportunities in senior roles and to be involved with a group of people who are outstanding in every way.”

Wesfarmers reported a 22.1 per cent increase in net profit after tax to $2.87 billion last month. Supermarket giant Coles’ earnings decreased by 13.5 per cent, but Goyder expects its customer-led strategy will pay off in the long-run.

Don’t miss your opportunity to hear Richard Goyder share his leadership insights – book your tickets to CCI’s Lighthouse Leadership event here.