Woolworths boss Brad Banducci quits amid questions over market competition

The boss of Australian retail company Woolworths has resigned days after a trainwreck interview where he walked out following questions about market competition.  

After 13 years working for the company, Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci announced on Wednesday he had quit and intends to retire. 

"It has been a privilege to be a member of the Woolies team and one I have never taken for granted," Banducci said. 

The company said he will leave in September and Amanda Bardwell, head of loyalty and eCommerce, will replace him as chief executive. 

"Brad has led a remarkable turnaround and transformation of the Group… Woolworths Group has been fortunate to have Brad as its leader and he has indeed helped us to be better together," Woolworths chairman Scott Perkins said.  

"The test of any CEO is to leave the business in much better shape than when they started. On that simple metric, history will judge Brad to have been one of Woolworth Group's finest leader." 

Banducci's resignation comes shortly after he walked out of an interview with ABC following questions over alleged price-gouging. 

During the interview, which appeared on ABC's Four Corners, Banducci was asked about market competition and food prices amid the increased cost of living. 

Banducci said the market was "incredibly competitive", but ABC reporter Angus Grigg responded that the former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had said the country has one of the most concentrated supermarket industries in the world. 

In response, Banducci added that the competition commissioner was retired. 

"I don't think you would impugn his integrity and his understanding of competition law," Grigg said. 

The world has got "much more competitive", Banducci replied, to which Grigg said he only retired "18 months ago". 

Caught off-guard, Banducci then asked to remove his comments from the interview. 

"I mean, he is retired, but I shouldn't have said that, Angus. Are we going to leave it in there?" 

Grigg responded the interview was "on the record, you said it. Let's just move on." 

One of Banducci's personal staff can be heard in the background suggesting he leave. 

"I think I'm done, guys," he said to the ABC team. "I don't do this for bad intent." 

His staff then asked Grigg: "Can we just talk to Brad for a sec?" 

Banducci eventually came back, and the interview resumed. 

However, Grigg said it showed how little scrutiny large supermarket companies have faced. 

"There you have the boss of the largest supermarket chain in the country really unwilling to face too many questions," he told ABC's News Breakfast on Tuesday. 

Banducci's resignation comes as major Australian supermarket chains face increasing pressure over the high cost of food. 

Woolworths and Coles are due to appear before Australia's Senate this year, as part of an inquiry into their market power and pricing decisions.