Home > Latest News > Former David Jones Boss Walks Away From Myer Top Job, Solomon Lew Tipped Not To Have Been Happy

Former David Jones Boss Walks Away From Myer Top Job, Solomon Lew Tipped Not To Have Been Happy

Experienced retailer and former Premier Investments and David Jones boss Mark McInnes walked away from taking the top job at Myer according to sources with the job instead being offered to a former airline Oliva Wirth, who has no retail experience according to sources with the move upsetting the retailers top shareholder.

The Australian claims that recently departed Myer chairman Ari Mervis was in advanced negotiations with McInnes to take over as the new chief executive, however the offer was not good enough with McInnes taking a role running a fashion, retail and investment vehicle for Monaco-based billionaire Brett Blundy.

McInnes had worked alongside Solomon Mr Lew, who is Myer’s largest shareholder with the former Premier Investments boss asking for remuneration similar to what he earned in his former job which was taken over by former JB Hi Fi Group CEO Richard Murray, according to The Australian, which could have been $6m a year or more, when including incentives and share options.

Australia Shareholders’ Association CEO Rachel Waterhouse says Olivia Wirth becoming Myer’s new Executive… Chair is “not good governance.”

Internal Myer company documents sighted by The Australian show Mr Mervis contacted Mr McInnes on or around January 10 with a “term sheet” that was in essence an agreement to continue to negotiate the terms and conditions to snare the experienced ­retailer.

Olivia Wirth

It was viewed by the Myer board as a non-binding term sheet, but there were hopes he would sign on to be the next Myer CEO.

However, from the start of talks Mr McInnes’ remuneration package was substantial, and it continued to climb as negotiations between Mr Mervis and Mr McInnes progressed.

The collapsed deal to bring Mr McInnes to Myer is believed to have ultimately played into the shock exit of Mr Mervis from the board last week, as part of the boardroom coup that saw Ms Wirth, who was only appointed a Myer director in November, handed the powerful role of Myer executive chairman.

It is believed Mr Lew, who through his Premier Investments company has a 28.79 per cent stake in Myer, withdrew his support for Mr Mervis to remain chairman as a wider restructure of the board – including the elevation of Lew confidant Gary Weiss to Myer deputy chairman – was engineered.

Solomon Lew Myers Largest Shareholder

of chief operating officer to provide further support to Ms Wirth.

Myer directors believe Olivia Wirth, that despite her lack of retail experience, she excels in customer loyalty, and that a pillar of discretionary retail currently is customer engagement, which she has great experience in.

A spokesman for Myer said the recruitment process was confidential and not something the department store owner would comment on. A spokeswoman for Mr Lew and a spokesman for Ms Wirth also declined to comment. Mr Mervis did not return phone calls.