Former Woolworths chief executive Michael Luscombe has died, aged 64.
The retail veteran, whose career with Woolworths spanned 33 years, was recently diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain disease, Creutzfelt-Jakob disease.
Luscombe is survived by his wife Karen, children Matthew, James and Stephanie as well as six grandchildren.
Woolworths Group chief executive Brad Banducci paid tribute to Luscombe in a statement on Friday, saying he provided great leadership to the business at a time of financial growth and strong shareholder returns.
“Michael made an enormous contribution to Woolworths throughout his long career, whether it was in his role as a management trainee in Victoria or as a managing director and CEO,” he said.
Luscombe started his career as a Woolworths management trainee in Victoria, working his way up the ranks as a store manager, training and development manager, area manager and retail operations manager.
He worked in most of Woolworths’ supermarkets major business areas, including marketing, merchandising, supply chain and as chief operations officer.
He was appointed chief executive in 2006 and served in the top job until September 2011 when he retired.
In his time steering the ship at Woolworths Luscombe presided over a period of dominance for Woolworths supermarkets as rival Coles was restructuring following its sale to Wesfarmers in 2007.
He also presided over improvements to the retail giant’s safety, workplace diversity, sustainability and community programs.
Luscombe was a director and chair of the Australian National Retailers’ Association and director of the consumer goods forum.