Myer customer chief exits as retailer battles tough trading conditions

ASX-listed department store giant reveals deputy CEO and chief merchandise and customer officer, Daniel Bracken, is leaving and revises down FY17 profit forecasts

Myer has revealed its deputy CEO, chief merchandise and customer officer, Daniel Bracken, is leaving the company amid ongoing tough retail trading conditions. 

In a trading update provided to the ASX yesterday, the company confirmed Bracken was leaving the department store giant after a two-and-a-half year stint. Initially recruited as MD of marketing and merchandising, Bracken was appointed deputy MD not long after and then chief merchandising and customer officer in May 2016. It was at this time that Myer also appointed former Virgin marketing leader, Michael Scott, as its executive GM of brand marketing.

Prior to this, Bracken was CEO of the Apparel Group for three years, and also held several roles at Burberry including VP of strategy, business integration director and commercial and operations director.

During his time at Myer, Bracken has been key contributor to the retailer’s ‘New Myer’ strategy, a $600 million initiative aimed at rejuvenating the department store giant and improving its customer offers and experiences, omni-channel shopping capabilities, and productivity.

As part of this quest to become more relevant to modern-day consumers, Bracken worked to secure a range of high-quality global brands for stores including John Lewis, Jak + Jones Premium, Radley, Oroton and Saba. Since the launch of ‘New Myer’ in September 2015, he also oversaw more than 700 new or upgraded brand installations.

A spokesperson told CMO Bracken leaves this week, the reasons for which have not been disclosed. Instead of directly replacing him in the role, Myer has promoted Karen Brewster (former group GM of womens', mens' and childrens' fashion) to executive GM of product merchandising, and Damian Walton (group GM merchandise planning) to executive GM of product distribution. The deputy CEO post will be abolished.

But in its latest trading update, Myer cited continued weakness in retail trading conditions, particularly in July, and revised down its net FY2017 net profit from $69.3 million to between $66m and $70m.

Myer CEO and MD, Richard Umbers, said the June-July Stocktale sale has traditionally been an important profit generation period for the department store. New initiatives to engage customers, drive foot traffic and increase average transaction value had mitigated some of the impact of volatile and challenging trading conditions.

“We are responding to the challenging external environment in a way that preserves the integrity of the New Myer strategy that is built around customer service, engaging retail experiences and wanted brands, while continuing our focus on efficiency and productivity,” he stated.

However, there were dark financial spots across the group. Myer confirmed it is writing down its 20 per cent interest in the Australian Topshop Topman franchise, which went into administration on 24 May, worth $6.8 million. The company attributed its decision to being unable to secure a deal with UK-based brand owner, Arcadia Group, to continue running brand concessions in its store network.

Poor performance across the sass & bide brand over the past year also hit revenue figures, and Myer now expects an impairment charge of $38.8m as a result.

In its half-yearly financial results, Umbers claimed an encouraging first-half after seeing a slight increase in sales, even as net profits dipped by 4 per cent. The group posted a 1.8 per cent rise in total sales to $1.79 billion for the 26 weeks to 23 January 2016. Sales were also up 3.3 per cent on comparable store sales.

It was off the back of this that Myer revised its full-year guidance range to between $66 million and $72 million, up by $2 million.

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