Myer names former Qantas Loyalty boss Olivia Wirth as CEO to replace King

Myer names former Qantas Loyalty boss Olivia Wirth as CEO to replace King

(L-R) Myer chair Ari Mervis, new executive chair and incoming CEO Olivia Wirth and outgoing CEO John King  

Myer Holdings (ASX: MYR) has announced a new position of executive chair ahead of CEO John King’s departure later this year, announcing non-executive director Olivia Wirth will immediately step into the hands-on role ahead of taking the reins in earnest as CEO in June.

Wirth, who was appointed to the Myer board last year, has held a number of senior roles at Qantas Airways (ASX: QAN) and most recently was CEO of Qantas Loyalty – a position she held for five years following the departure of high-profile corporate figure Jayne Hrdlicka, who then went on to lead A2 Milk Company (ASX: A2M) and Virgin Australia. 

Wirth takes on the executive chair’s role at Myer from today after resigning from Qantas Loyalty last year in the wake of missing out on the top job at the airline to Vanessa Hudson. She will assume the CEO’s position on 4 June following King’s planned retirement a day earlier.

In another major change for the Myer board, non-executive director Dr Gary Weiss has been appointed deputy chair and lead independent director, a new role that Myer says has been created to enhance governance.

Myer’s executive general manager of stores, Tony Sutton who has 30 years’ experience at Myer, has also been promoted to the new executive position of chief operating officer.

The board changes have been announced in tandem with Myer’s half-year profit result which saw net profit after tax slide to $13 million from $52 million a year earlier – a period that reflected the closure of its Brisbane CBD store.

King, who announced his plans to retire last year, will remain as CEO of Myer until 3 June this year to ensure an orderly leadership transition for the group.

“The board’s appointment of Olivia as executive chair is the start of a new era for Myer,” says Myer chair Ari Mervis.

“Olivia is an experienced and respected leader, with a track record of delivering improved business performance.

“She transformed Qantas Loyalty into one of Australia’s most successful customer engagement and omni-retail businesses.”

Mervis says that since joining the Myer board last year, Wirth has ‘demonstrated impressive commercial acumen and an acute understanding of the dynamics facing both Myer and the broader retail sector’.

“It is the board’s view that Olivia is the ideal person to lead Myer as it accelerates the work undertaken in recent years to stabilise and strengthen the business,” he says.

“John has made an enormous contribution in delivering for Myer in challenging times and we thank him for his support in ensuring a smooth leadership succession to Olivia.”

King describes Wirth’s appointment as ‘a great outcome’ for Myer’s customers, team members, brand partners and shareholders.

“I have worked closely with Olivia since she joined the board and I have been deeply impressed with her hands-on approach, commitment to our loyal customers and support for the team,” he says.

“I believe Myer has an exciting future with the board’s appointment of Olivia as executive chair.”

King says he is also proud of the company’s achievements over the past six years under his leadership.

“We have transitioned Myer into a stronger and more profitable business, culminating in last year’s strong financial performance, which included the best sales result in almost two decades,” says King.

“It has been a privilege to lead one of Australia’s highest profile companies and I am committed to providing a smooth transition to Olivia to ensure we maintain momentum in delivering our Customer First Plan.”

Wirth says Myer continues to face ‘significant challenges’ to meet the changing needs of customers.

“I am focused on delivering improved outcomes for our valued customers, team members and all Myer shareholders,” she says.

“My immediate priorities will be ensuring we are delivering a great in-store experience with a world-class range and best-in-class customer service, while investing in e-commerce and harnessing loyalty and partnerships among our customers and suppliers,” she says.

Wirth steps into her new position at Myers on a base salary of $1.2 million.

Meanwhile, King says the department store group’s latest profit result revealed a strong comparable sales outcome, with the company ‘cycling our best ever first-half sales on record in FY23’ with improvements  in Myer’s market share across both stores and online.

“Our underlying profit result has remained robust despite the impacts from our Brisbane store closure and increased promotional cadence,” says King.

“The ramp up of our new National Distribution Centre in Q4, continued roll out of new shopping experiences and brands, tight inventory management and continued focus on newness in 2H, will help with momentum into the second half.”

Myer posted comparable sales growth of 0.1 per cent in the first half, despite a 3 per cent fall in total sales to $1.83 billion for the six months to the end of December.

Get our daily business news

Sign up to our free email news updates.

 
Finexia’s Childcare Income Fund secures ‘very strong’ rating from Foresight Analytics & Ratings
Partner Content
Private credit specialist Finexia Financial Group (ASX: FNX) has secured a “very...
Finexia
Advertisement

Related Stories

UniSuper pumps $623m into Macquarie green energy and climate fund

UniSuper pumps $623m into Macquarie green energy and climate fund

One of the nation’s largest super funds, UniSuper, has commit...

Founder-led Solution Underwriting acquired by UK insurance provider CFC

Founder-led Solution Underwriting acquired by UK insurance provider CFC

After 14 years in business and with 55 staff spread across four Aus...

Billionaire pubs baron Mathieson boosts holding in The Star back to nearly 10pc

Billionaire pubs baron Mathieson boosts holding in The Star back to nearly 10pc

Pubs baron Bruce Mathieson has taken advantage of a slump in The St...

Don’t understand predictive algorithms? Xplainable bridges the “how and why” gap of machine learning

Don’t understand predictive algorithms? Xplainable bridges the “how and why” gap of machine learning

"There is so much hype around AI. Let's just focus on...