Wesfarmers, the Australian conglomerate that owns the British DIY chain Homebase, has appointed a long time executive and former Olympic rower Rob Scott as its next managing director.

Mr Scott will take over from Richard Goyder, who is stepping down in November after 12 years in the role as head of one of Australia’s biggest companies with interests in retail and resources.

“The Wesfarmers approach to business is ingrained in me and provides our teams with a platform to innovate and develop world class businesses,” said Mr Scott.

The change in leadership follows a difficult year for Wesfarmers, which reported its biggest annual fall in profits for a decade in August following writedowns on its coal and Target subsidiaries.

Michael Chaney, Wesfarmers chairman, said Mr Scott (47) had shown himself to be an outstanding executive in key roles across Wesfarmers, including as finance director of Coles supermarket and managing director of its industrials division, which combined its resources, chemicals and fertilisers business.

The appointment continued the unbroken tradition of Wesfarmers appointing its managing director from within the group. Mr Scott is only the eighth managing director and chief executive officer of Wesfarmers in 103 years.

Mr Scott has immediately been appointed Wesfarmers’ group deputy chief executive and will join the board as managing director following its annual general meeting in November.

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