Finance Annual meeting showdown looms after Myer shares hit new low

Annual meeting showdown looms after Myer shares hit new low

Not even strong Christmas sales could turn around Myer’s results, according to its largest shareholder Solomon Lew. Photo: AAP
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Myer shared plunged more than 10% on the Australian Stock Exchange on Monday after the troubled bricks-and-mortar retailer was forced to reveal another fall in sales.

The shares were halted from trading by ASX Compliance, a separate division of ASX that is responsible for ensuring companies observe market rules, on Friday, following a media report that sales would be lower. That prompted Myer to release a statement late in the day, where it admitted its first-quarter sales had fallen 4.8%.

The company’s shares hit a record low of 40.5 cents when they resumed trading yesterday – less than one tenth of their listing price of $4.10 when they were first publicly traded in 2009.

With the Myer annual general meeting less than two weeks away, major shareholders and biggest critics, billionaire investor Solomon Lew and Premier Investments, stepped up their attacks on the retailer. 

In a statement, Premier Investments said the latest Myer sales numbers “indicate an ominous future for the department store.” 

“We are deeply concerned about the future viability of Myer without appropriately skilled retailers on its board,” the statement said. 

“I urge fellow shareholders to send the board a clear message at the upcoming annual general meeting – this may be the last chance we have to avoid the demise of this once great Australian company.” 

Mr Lew chimed in, saying not even buoyant Christmas sales could turn around Myer’s recent results. 

“A sales drop of 4.8% is something that even Father Christmas can’t turn around,” Mr Lew said.  “The failed Myer Board must go.”

Premier called for shareholders to throw out the entire board at the company’s annual general meeting on November 30. 

However, other major shareholders have a different point of view to Mr Lew.

Anton Tagliaferro, from Investors Mutual – the second biggest shareholder in Myer – told the ABC on Friday that sales were not the most important issue for the company, which is trying to move away from unprofitable lines of stock.

“The more important thing for us is the profit,” Mr Tagliaferro said, adding he would support the board at the annual meeting.