Bapcor’s leadership woes worsen as Paul Dumbrell pulls out of CEO gig

Bapcor’s leadership woes worsen as Paul Dumbrell pulls out of CEO gig

Photo via Autopro Facebook 

Automotive retail group Bapcor’s (ASX: BAP) leadership vacuum has become more acute after industry veteran Paul Dumbrell made a last-minute call to pull out of taking on the CEO’s position from tomorrow.

Dumbrell, whose family founded Autobarn, one of the key retail businesses within the Bapcor group, “has made a personal decision not to join the company”, says Bapcor in a brief statement to the ASX this morning.

While Mark Bernhard will remain as interim CEO as the company begins a fresh search for a replacement, Dumbrell’s withdrawal is a blow to the company after the February departure of Noel Meehan – who held the top job for two years.

“This is a disappointing situation, however we are pleased that Mark will remain acting in the role, so we can continue to leverage his expertise and experience,” says Bapcor chair Margie Haseltine.

Haseltine is adding to the leadership headaches at Bapcor after announcing earlier this year that she would not be standing for re-election at the 2024 AGM.

Bapcor is also on the hunt for a chief financial officer following the appointment of George Saoud as interim CFO last month to replace Stefan Camphausen, whose resignation was announced on 17 January.

Bapcor has put a positive spin on today’s announcement, noting that Bernhard has more than 30 years global experience as an executive in the automotive sector.

However, the announcement in February that Dumbrell was returning to the fold was followed by a solid increase in the Bapcor share price since then.

Dumbrell was joining Bapcor after a strong five-year run as CEO of Total Tools, which Bapcor noted earlier this year had almost doubled sales revenue under his leadership.

Dumbrell, who resigned as CEO of Total Tools in March ahead of his planned appointment at Bapcor, has more than 15 years’ experience heading automotive and retail businesses.

This includes a stint as CEO of Automotive Brands Group which was founded by his father Garry in the mid-1980s and owned the Autobarn and Autopro businesses.

Bapcor’s shares have been placed in a trading halt pending a trading update by the company which operates Autobarn and Autopro as well as Midas, ABS, Shock Shop and Battery Town.

The retail group posted a record $1.02 billion in revenue for the first half of FY24, although pro forma net profit after tax was 12.6 per cent lower at $54.2 million.

Bapcor shares last traded at $5.78.

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