June 7, 2021

David Jones, the Australian department store operator, is pulling out of a partnership to run food stores at BP petrol stations as its parent company looks to cut losses.

The head of Woolworths Holdings, the South African company that owns David Jones, said the tie-up with BP – which had been branded “surprising” and “unlikely” by Australian media – was part of “a fairly flawed” strategy, while adding that it was unlikely the chain would move out of the food business completely.

Roy Bagattini, Woolworths Holdings’ CEO, told media that David Jones was “well into exiting” the tie-up with BP, which involved 35 outlets in Victoria and New South Wales.

“The result here is that we’re going to convert the David Jones food losses to a breakeven position certainly within our next financial year,” Baggatini told reporters.

“Being very candid, I think our strategy for food with David Jones in Australia was unfortunately fairly flawed from the outset, and a sort of cut and paste from South Africa was never really going to be a solution there.”

The partnership with BP began in 2019, with the first store opening in Melbourne in November that year as David Jones looked to make inroads into Australia’s convenience outlet sector.

Three David Jones food outlets have already shut this year as part of a review of the company’s business that Bagattini began after taking over Woolworths in 2020. He said that David Jones may instead have food concessions instead of leaving the sector entirely.

Woolworths, which is not linked to the defunct British retailer of the same name, bought David Jones in 2014. The Australian retailer was established in 1838 when founder, David Jones, opened a store in Sydney.

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