Wednesday February 14, 2018
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Shoppers walk outside a Myer department store, Australia's largest department store operator, in Sydney, Australia, September 14, 2017. — Reuters picShoppers walk outside a Myer department store, Australia's largest department store operator, in Sydney, Australia, September 14, 2017. — Reuters picSYDNEY, Feb 14 — Australia’s Myer Holdings said chief executive Richard Umbers will step down midway through a turnaround plan, amid shareholder calls for a complete overhaul of the board to arrest a steady decline in profitability.

Major shareholder Premier Investments, which holds 10.8 per cent of the 118-year-old department store operator, last week proposed a vote on replacing the board after Myer warned of possible write-downs and flagged a 41 per cent plunge in first-half profit.

Premier, which is led by billionaire investor Solomon Lew, has been scathing in its criticism of Myer’s response to new online competitors and stagnant retail sales growth.

The company said Chairman Garry Hounsell had been appointed as executive chairman with immediate effect.

“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.

Myer shares jumped 3.7 per cent to A$0.56 (RM1.73) in morning trade, having hit record lows earlier in the week.

The broader market was flat. — Reuters

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