Lowe’s/Woolie’s venture scrutinized as CEO quits

SYDNEY, Australia — Grant O’Brien, CEO of Woolworths, is leaving the company after 28 years, as the Australian retailer continues to struggle with sales numbers. His departure opens the door for his successor to pull the plug on Masters Home Improvement, the company’s money-losing joint venture with Lowe’s. O’Brien, who reiterated support for the venture last month, was the driving force behind Masters. O’Brien and chairman Ralph Waters have defended the business, insisting that it will eventually pay off for shareholders, but Waters acknowledged that the new CEO will be at liberty to review all points of Woolworths’ business plan, including Masters.