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Retail giant Myer has unveiled its new Chief Executive Officer amidst an impressive half-year profit

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Olivia Wirth, the former executive at Qantas, has assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer at Myer, coinciding with the department store’s remarkable announcement of a net profit exceeding $50 million. Departing from her position as the CEO of Qantas Loyalty last October, Ms. Wirth swiftly transitioned to Myer’s board of directors within a month.

Her appointment marks a significant shift in Myer’s leadership, with Ms. Wirth now serving as both Chief Executive and Executive Chair at the retail giant, taking over from the outgoing chairman, Ari Mervis. Commencing her duties as chair immediately, Ms. Wirth will officially assume the role of Chief Executive on June 4, succeeding John King.

In her statement on Thursday, Ms. Wirth expressed her honor in leading one of Australia’s most iconic businesses, highlighting Myer’s enduring legacy and its cherished place in the hearts of millions of Australians. She underscored her commitment to enhancing the in-store experience, bolstering e-commerce capabilities, and fostering strong customer and supplier relationships.

Mr. Mervis hailed Ms. Wirth’s appointment as the dawn of a new era for Myer, citing her exceptional leadership and proven track record in driving business growth. He lauded her transformative efforts at Qantas Loyalty, where she successfully steered the company toward becoming one of Australia’s premier customer engagement and retail enterprises.

Myer’s announcement of Ms. Wirth’s appointment coincides with the unveiling of its impressive half-year financial results. Despite challenges posed by rising interest rates and warnings of subdued consumer spending, the retail brand reported a net profit after tax of $52 million for the half-year ending December 31, 2023. This figure marked a 20% decline compared to the previous corresponding period, yet Myer’s sales performance remained resilient, with a 3% decline in total sales and a 0.1% increase in group comparable sales growth.

Mr. King attributed the company’s success to its “customer-first plan,” which prioritizes delivering exceptional value and service to customers. He noted the company’s steady progress in maintaining market share across both physical and online platforms, despite challenges such as the closure of its Brisbane store and heightened promotional activity.

Furthermore, Myer announced its intention to return $25 million to investors through an interim dividend of 3 cents per share. The company’s online sales also demonstrated growth, increasing by 2% to reach $390.1 million, accounting for 21.3% of total sales.

Despite the decline in profits, investors reacted positively to Myer’s financial results, with the company’s share price surging more than 5% upon market opening. Analysts noted the company’s resilience in navigating challenging market conditions, particularly in the face of multiple interest rate hikes.

Looking ahead, Mr. King expressed cautious optimism about Myer’s prospects, citing a 4.9% increase in comparable sales for the first six weeks of 2024. He emphasized the company’s ongoing commitment to its “customer-first plan” and outlined a robust program of initiatives aimed at driving growth and enhancing the customer experience.

Overall, Myer’s recent developments, including Ms. Wirth’s appointment and its strong financial performance, signal a promising future for the iconic Australian retailer, poised to navigate evolving market dynamics and deliver sustained value to its stakeholders.