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Struggling Myer searching for new CEO

Business

Myer chief executive Richard Umbers has stepped down from the helm of the struggling department store.

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The retailer’s chairman Garry Hounsell has been appointed executive chairman while a search for a new CEO takes place.

“We are impatient for a turnaround in the company’s performance and the board has determined that it is in the interests of all shareholders for there to be a fresh approach to drive our future direction,” Hounsell said in a statement today.

He said that at the time of his appointment as chairman in November 2017, he was impatient and this announcement reflected “my desire to drive, first-hand, the urgency required to deliver shareholder value”.

Myer on Friday said it expects net profit of between $37 million and $41 million for the first half, down from $62.8 million for the same period last year.

But that excludes impairments the size of which it is still calculating.

Myer has in the past six months announced stores closures, shed jobs and written down various investments as Umbers’ turnaround strategy failed to gain traction against a backdrop of sluggish consumer activity and increased competition.

Umbers was parachuted into the job about three years ago. He first focused closing stores, culling brands and focusing on “wanted brands”.

The company’s 2017 full-year profit was down 80.3 per cent to $11.9 million, partly due to $45.6 million in writedowns against its investments in TopShop and sass & bide.

Retail veteran Solomon Lew has been highly critical of Myer’s performance and on Friday called for fellow Myer shareholders to “save the company” with a board spill.

Lew’s Premier Investments took a 10.8 per cent stake in Myer in March 2017.

– AAP

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