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Gail Kelly quits David Jones' owner days after CEO's shock exit

Sydney Morning Herald logo Sydney Morning Herald 12/02/2019 Patrick Hatch
a person standing on a stage: The board departures come less than a week after the shock exit of David Jones' CEO. © Nic Walker The board departures come less than a week after the shock exit of David Jones' CEO.

Former Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly and Australian banking director Patrick Allaway have resigned from the board of David Jones' parent company less than a week after the shock exit of the department store's boss David Thomas.

Ms Kelly and Mr Allaway had resigned from the company with immediate effect, the South African retail group Woolworths Holdings said on Tuesday.

Both were independent non-executive directors and served on the company's risk and compliance committees.

"Both Gail and Patrick have made significant contributions to the group, and the board thanks them for their service and wishes them both well in their future endeavours," Woolworths said in a statement.

Mr Allaway is a director of Nine Entertainment, which owns The Age and SMH.

The pair's departure comes after David Jones' chief executive David Thomas resigned on Thursday last week, citing undisclosed "personal reasons".

David Jones said a complaint of discrimination had been made against Mr Thomas in November last year but an investigation had found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Gail Kelly with collar shirt: Former Westpac boss Gail Kelly has left the Woolworths Holdings board. © Michele Mossop Former Westpac boss Gail Kelly has left the Woolworths Holdings board.

The company made a small cash settlement with the employee, who sources said was a member of the visual merchandising team.

The Age and SMH are not suggesting that Mr Thomas' departure is connected to the complaint or settlement agreement.

Mr Thomas' departure marked the fourth CEO David Jones has churned through in less than five years.

John Dixon left the company in May last year, Ian Nairn departed in 2016, also for "personal reasons", and long-standing executive Paul Zahra left in 2014, shortly after South African retailer Woolworths Holdings bought the department store for $2.1 billion.

It comes as David Jones faces falling sales and earnings, and undergoes a major $200 million development of its flagship store on Sydney's Elizabeth Street.

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