BREAKING NEWS: Umbers Exits As Myer CEO, Rumours Of Sacking
Following personal attacks from disgruntled shareholders, and the release of several profit downgrades, Myer CEO Richard Umbers has stepped down – with some reports suggesting it was a forced sacking.
Just last week, Umbers rejected media speculation that his resignation was on the cards.
As disclosed in a stock exchange announcement today, Myer Chairman, Gary Hounsell has been appointed Executive Chairman with immediate effect.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald and Herald Sun speculation is Umbers was forced to step down, following a dispute with Mr Hounsell over Myer’s turnaround program – an initiative which thus far has failed to curb its declining sales.
Richard Umbers’ departure comes nearly a week after he announced Myer’s third profit downgrade since July – news which saw Myer shares diving to a record low of 53 cents.
He attributed the profit decline to a reduction in foot traffic, coupled with aggressive discounting in December.
Mr Hounsell affirms the retailer has started its search for a new CEO and MD:
“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”
“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”.
Umbers took Myer’s CEO post in March 2015 – at which time shares were trading around $1.40. By contrast, yesterday Myer’s shares closed at 53.5 cents.
A former Australia Post and Woolworths executive, Richard Umber took charge of Myer’s leadership in 2015, and catapulted a $600 million five year turnaround strategy, focused on boosting sales and earnings returns.
The news of Umbers’ abrupt exit will likely add fuel to Myer’s largest shareholder, Solomon Lew, who has been especially vocal in his thoughts, calling for an overthrow of Myer’s board.
Umbers is leaving Myer in accordance with contractual terms set out in its 2017 Remuneration Report, and will serve a 12 month notice period.