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Embattled Myer CEO steps down

Outgoing Myer CEO Richard Umbers. Picture: David Geraghty/The Australian
Outgoing Myer CEO Richard Umbers. Picture: David Geraghty/The Australian

MYER chief executive Richard Umbers has stepped down, a week after shares in the struggling department store plunged to record lows following another profit warning.

The company announced the move to the ASX on Wednesday morning. Myer chairman Garry Hounsell has been appointed executive chairman. The company said a search for a new CEO and managing director would begin immediately.

"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," Mr Hounsell said in a statement.

"At the time of my appointment as chairman in November 2017, I said I was impatient and this announcement reflects my desire to drive, first-hand, the urgency required to deliver shareholder value.

"On behalf of the board, I thank Richard for his hard work and commitment during the past three years and wish him well for the future."

On Friday, Myer shares plunged more than 12 per cent to an all-time low after the company announced a steep drop in sales would push its profit down when it reports its half-year results next month.

Myer's sales fell by 6.5 per cent in the key January trading period, pushing total first-half sales down 3.6 per cent, with net profit in the first six months of the year now expected to fall between $37 million and $41 million, down from $62.8 million a year earlier.

Outspoken investor Solomon Lew, of retail group Premier Investments, who took a 10.8 per cent stake in Myer last March, has called on shareholders to "save the company" with a board spill.

"Myer is now in peril and shareholders must urgently unite to save the company and what is left of our investments," Premier Investments said in a statement on Friday. "Premier will caucus with other significant shareholders in order to reconstitute the entire Myer board."

frank.chung@news.com.au

Topics:  ceo department store myer


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