News National Myer CEO Richard Umbers exits amid sales slump
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Myer CEO Richard Umbers exits amid sales slump

Myer CEO Richard Umbers will step down. Photo: AAP
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The chief executive of department store chain Myer is stepping down immediately, after a string of profit warnings.

Richard Umbers will exit just days after the company issued its third profit warning since July.

Myer chairman Garry Hounsell has been appointed executive chairman as the search for a new CEO commences.

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

Last week, Myer revealed its stocktake sale had failed to attract shoppers, with sales falling 6.5 per cent in January compared to the previous year.

In the announcement, Mr Umbers described retail conditions as competitive and said it was a “significant deterioration” in trading.

Shares hit a fresh all-time low on the news and the tumble continued as brokers downgraded the stock following the announcement.

Veteran retailer and major Myer shareholder Solomon Lew has been calling for a board spill.

Mr Lew’s Premier Investments recently requested Myer’s shareholder register to push for an extraordinary general meeting.

Mr Umbers took up the top job in Myer in 2015 and led its ‘new Myer’ turnaround strategy but the retailer failed to hit sales targets.

Myer has also had a recent change in chairman, with Mr Hounsell moving into the role in November, replacing Paul McClintock.

“At the time of my appointment … I said I was impatient and this announcement reflects my desire to drive, first-hand, the urgency required to deliver shareholder value,” Mr Hounsell said on Wednesday.

In January Myer announced a wave of redundancies and the vacation of an entire floor of its head office as part of a new push to revive the rapidly deflating business.

Those announcements cames a month after the century-old Australian institution revealed shocking sales figures in the lead-up to Christmas.

The ‘restructure’ was an attempt to shift Myer’s focus so it can compete with e-commerce disruptors such as Amazon.

It included a major downsizing of staff and the vacation of another floor of the management head office on Melbourne’s Collins Street.

In the past two-and-a-half years, Myer has vacated four-and-a-half floors, or 40 per cent, of this office.

– with ABC

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