In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Myer CEO, Bernie Brookes, is stepping down with immediate effect, a move that sees the retailer’s chief technologist take the top job and its CMO become his deputy.
In a statement today, Myer said Brookes will be replaced by current chief information and supply chain officer, Richard Umbers, effective immediately. As part of the executive shift, the retailer’s chief merchandising and marketing officer, Daniel Bracken, will take on the deputy CEO’s post in addition to his other responsibilities.
Both Bracken and Umbers joined Myer mid-last year as part of a raft of senior executive appointments. Bracken was formerly the CEO of The Apparel Group and was given the job of overseeing merchandising strategy including managing design, sourcing, buying and manufacturing, as well as advertising, digital, marketing, events and executing Myer’s brand strategy.
In a statement, Myer chairman, Paul McClintock, said the two senior appointments reflected the need for a new strategy to put customers back at the centre of the business.
“It has become clear that to thrive in a modern retail environment, Myer must adapt more quickly and be closer to its customers,” Myer chairman, Paul McClintock, said in a statement announcing the executive changes.
“A strategic review has been ongoing for some time, with a view to reshaping the business for a profitable sustainable future. The addition of highly experienced executives last year has brought a broad range of perspectives to the strategic review. Based on this work, it has become evident that a transformation project of the scale required to achieve the board’s vision will take a number of years to implement.
“The board and management team have agreed that the transformation work has reached a pivotal point and it is appropriate for a new CEO to be given the opportunity to own, lead and drive the transformation program over the coming years.”
Umbers had already demonstrated his ability to “reshape” Myer in this new retail business landscape, McClintock continued. Umbers previously held senior roles at Aldi in Europe and Woolworths and joined Myer from Australia Post, where he was executive general manager for Parcel and Express Services and CEO of StarTrack.
“He has broad international experience across the retail sector and importantly, success in leading business transformation, Richard heads up a highly experience executive team with strong international and fashion credentials,” McClintock said.
An extensive customer research project using internal and external data had delivered a clear definition of the current and future Myer customer, he continued.
“We must be more consistent in putting the customer at the centre of all of our thinking,” Umbers said in the statement. “An in-depth analysis of Myer’s current and future target customer is giving us a very clear picture of where we need to focus our efforts.
“We recognise the power of these customer conversations and these insights are shaping our view of the future of Myer.”
Brookes was originally expected to leave the top job at the conclusion of his contract in August last year, but was reappointed on an open term contract after the retail group’s merger offer to David Jones was rejected.
Myer also confirmed today that its CFO, Mark Ashby, had resigned to take up a role overseas. Myer also appointed former Simplot CMO, Tara Lordsmith, as its new group general manager of marketing in December.
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