Former Air NZ turnaround king Rob Fyfe to chair Michael Hill

Former Air NZ turnaround king Rob Fyfe to chair Michael Hill

Former Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe, a high-profile figure in advising the New Zealand Government on navigating its way through the pandemic, has been appointed to chair jewellery retail group Michael Hill International (ASX: MHJ).

Fyfe, who is best known for turning around the fortunes of the Kiwi national carrier more than a decade ago, is replacing Emma Hill, daughter of company founder Michael Hill, as chairman.

Emma Hill, a director of the company for more than 14 years, has been in the chair for the past five years and prior to that was deputy chair from 2011 to 2015.

She will step down from the role at the end of June but will remain a non-executive director of the company.

"The time is right for this transition," says Hill.

"The company has never been in a healthier position. Our CEO Daniel (Bracken) is delivering exceptional results across our transformation program. He has elevated customer experience and continues to strengthen our market position."

It comes as the group, which operates 280 stores in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, bounced back from the COVID downturn. 

The company announced in April that same-store sales for the third quarter of FY21 were up 16.4 per cent, while all store sales had risen 11.6 per cent.

Net profit for the December half-year of $38.9 million was 82 per cent up on a year earlier. Michael Hill permanently closed 15 stores across its territories during the period.

Fyfe has been on the Michael Hill board for more than seven years in a non-executive role. He departed from Air New Zealand in 2012 after putting the company back on course following a government bailout in 2001.

He is currently a director of Air Canada and last year was tapped on the shoulder by NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to become a business advisor for the country's COVID recovery strategy.

Fyfe says he is keen to build on the heritage of the Hill family and its contribution to the company over the past 42 years.

"I have developed a deep understanding of the business during my seven years as director and have great confidence in the strategy that our CEO Daniel, and the management team he leads, are pursuing," Fyfe says.

"I look forward to working with my fellow directors, Daniel and the wider Michael Hill team to ensure we continue to execute against this strategy and continue to develop and strengthen the Michael Hill brand in our chosen markets."

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