Brad Banducci, CEO of Woolworths, has asked “everyone to treat our team with respect” following the decision to not sell Australia Day merchandise.
In his first public comments since the decision, Banducci said he hoped to clarify the company’s decision.
“As a proud Australian and New Zealand retailer, we aren’t trying to ‘cancel’ Australia Day. Rather, Woolworths is deeply proud of our place in providing the fresh food that brings Australians together every day. “
The Woolworths boss said that the decision to not stock specific Australia Day general merchandise was made based on steeply declining sales.
“The decision to stock this mostly imported merchandise has to be made almost 12 months in advance. So as a business decision, it doesn’t make commercial sense.”
The company faced backlash over its decision to no longer stock Australia Day products from customers and politicians, including Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who urged consumers to boycott the store, but Banducci said the company is celebrating the nation in other ways.
“There are many other ways in which we are supporting our customers and our team to celebrate Australia, such as acknowledging the best of Australian products in our stores and online and supporting our team to mark Australia Day with their local community.”