Woolworths Food CEO to step down

Woolworths Food CEO Zyda Rylands will step down later this year after around 3 years in the role and 29 years at the company.

Woolworths announced today that Rylands will be retiring at the end of August 2024.

She has served as Woolworths Food CEO since September 2021 but was the CEO of Woolworths South Africa for over 8 years prior.

She attained a BCom degree at the University of Cape Town and an Honours degree at the University of the Western Cape.

Rylands qualified as a chartered accountant in 1993 and attended the London Business School in 2005. She has also attended an Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School.

She joined Caltex Oil (SA) as a financial analyst before being promoted to treasury administration manager.  

Woolworths recruited her in 1995 as an audit manager, and she was appointed as EA to the Woolworths MD after 18 months.

 She worked her way up in the company and, in 2007, became its chief operating officer.

In 2017, Rylands was awarded the World Retail Award for Woman of the Year by the World Retail Congress. 

She is also a recipient of the Impumelelo/BMF Top Ten Black Business Personalities Award and was named South Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government in the Consumer Business, Wholesale and Retail Sector in 2012 by CEO Magazine.

Woolworths Food flourished under Rylands’ leadership, with the company’s latest interim results showing an 8.22% growth in sales to R22.4 billion.

Woolworths Food also increased its gross profits by 11.45% to R5.5 billion and increased its profit before tax by 11.76% to R1.45 billion. The retailer achieved a 24.6% gross profit margin.

“The board extends its appreciation to Zyda for her contribution and commitment to the Woolworths Group over the past 29 years and for the significant role she has played in growing and positioning Woolworths Foods as an industry-leading food retailer,” Woolworths said.

The company also announced today that, as part of a planned succession process, Woolworths COO Sam Ngumeni will be taking over from Rylands as CEO of Woolworths Foods effective 1 July 2024. 

“Sam is a highly regarded executive with a successful track record across multiple senior roles in the group over the past 28 years,” Woolworths said. 

“The board congratulates Sam on his appointment and looks forward to the contribution he will make to the Foods business.”