NEW BILLABONG BOSS AS O’NEILL GOES

NEW BILLABONG BOSS AS O’NEILL GOES

BILLABONG’S long-serving CEO Derek O’Neill (pictured) today left the company and has been replaced by former Target boss Launa Inman.

Inman was brought in two months ago as a consultant.

Inman will begin work at the surf retailer on May 14 on a salary of $1.3 million per annum - $100,000 more than O’Neill received last financial year – plus other incentives.

She will relocate from Melbourne to the Gold Coast.

Billabong chairman Ted Kunkel says Inman’s skills will bring “fresh perspective, energy and drive” to the group.

Inman has extensive experience in retail, supply chain management, finance, strategic planning and brand marketing.

She was managing director at Target Australia for seven years. Inman previously worked as managing director of Officeworks and is a member of the board of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

“Launa’s appointment recognises the tremendous importance retail has assumed in our business,” says Kunkel.

The Burleigh Heads-based surf retailer is battling huge debt in a tough retail climate. The company’s market capitalisation dropped by $1.23 billion in the last financial year.

Billabong (ASX: BBG) rejected an $841.8 million bid from US private equity group TPG in February, saying it undervalued the company.

Instead it implemented a turnaround strategy involving closing up to 150 retail shops and selling its Nixon accessories brand in a deal that valued Nixon at $US464 million.

“We need to continue to drive our turnaround strategy, moving to a fully integrated operating model powered by the strength of our brands,” says Inman.

“The first priorities of the turnaround strategy will be to extract greater value from our retail network and strengthening supply chain management.

“This will provide the opportunity for Billabong’s family of brands to meet their full potential.”

Paul Naude, the head of North America, will be appointed to an expanded role of president of the Americas and will assume additional responsibility for the fast-growing South American market as well as the US and Canada.

Kunkel thanked O’Neill for his contribution to the company.

“Derek O’Neill has been with Billabong for more than 20 years and we thank him for his service and wish him all the best for the future,” says Kunkel.

Billabong shares were trading down 1.67 per cent at $2.36 this morning.

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