Michael Hill recruits new marketing, retail chiefs

Jo Feeney joins the jewellery retailer as chief marketing officer as its looks for continued growth in 2021

ASX-listed retailer, Michael Hill Jeweller, has recruited Jo Feeney as its new chief marketing officer as it looks to chart a course for continuing growth in 2021.

Feeney has spent more than seven years at McDonalds, initially as national marketing manager before being promoted to director of marketing in November 2015. She has also held senior brand and marketing roles with Vividwireless, Foxtel and Telstra.

She’s being joined at Michael Hill by Amy Sznicer, who takes on the chief retail officer’s post. Sznicer has spent the last six years as the owner of her own retail business. Prior to this, she was GM of retail for Witchery and also held similar roles at Bras N Things and Busbrands.

The news of the two executive appointments follows the departure of Michael Hill’s chief brand and strategy officer, Vanessa Brennan, and chief operating officer, Andrea Slingsby, and was made as part of a general trading update by the company to the market on 15 January 2021.

Over the six months to 27 December 2020, Michael Hill reported same store sales were up 6.3 per cent for the first half to $312.1 million, and up 5.6 per cent on the quarter against the prior year in Australia to $195.3m. EBIT for the first half was $41 million to $45 million, up from $31.6m in H1 2020. This came after the group was forced to close stores between May and July 2020 due to the pandemic, triggering a significant profit drop.

In addition, digital sales had lifted 102 per cent to bring digital as a portion of total sales up to 5.8 per cent. The company is now forecasting second-half EBIT of $56 million to $60 million,

Michael Hill CEO, Daniel Bracken, said it had been a strong first five months followed by positive same store sales growth during the all-important Christmas trading period.

“I am delighted our strong trading performance across the half, coupled with our unwavering focus on costs, has in turn delivered material EBIT growth for the group, in spite of challenging trading conditions worldwide,” he commented.  “All areas of the business have contributed to this outstanding performance, as the rhythm of the business and our strategic initiatives operated in unison.

“These results reaffirm our continued focus on a balance of both margin and sales growth, underpinned by a number of our strategic initiatives - brand, digital transformation, loyalty, retail fundamentals, and product mix.”

As Michael Hill emerges from what has been a critical trading period, with a stronger balance sheet, Bracken said the two leaders would to help continue to transform and inspire growth.

“Considering the global challenges over the last year, I couldn’t be prouder of the dedication, energy and resilience consistently demonstrated by our teams, as we prioritise best-in-class health and safety protocols and continue to delight our loyal customers,” Bracken added. “All of our global markets were directly impacted by the pandemic in the first half, and I would like to make special mention of our Victorian and now our Canadian teams, who have weathered extended periods of disruption for both themselves and their families.”

Founded in New Zealand and also listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, Michael Hill has 289 stores across A/NZ and Canada.

Commenting on Feeney's departure, a McDonalds spokesperson told CMO the business was grateful for her strategic contribution over the past seven years.

“In her role as director of marketing, Jo helped drive the business to achieve significant market growth throughout a period of major consumer change," the spokesperson said. “We are excited for Jo as she takes on this new leadership role in one of the country’s most well-known retail brands and wish her all the best for her continued success.

The spokesperson added an announcement regarding the director of marketing role has yet to be made.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

 

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