Myer CEO Richard Umber resigned this week, at the request of chairman Garry Hounsell.
Good riddance to Myer's CEO!
In my humble view, it was not a minute before time. That said, his predecessor was no better. Both presided over the decline of a once great Australian retailer.
While Myer was never in the league of Harrods, Marks & Spencer or John Lewis, by Australian standards it was a good retailer -- and served well the needs of my parents and grandparents.
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But today, Myer is a shadow of its former self, a destination of last resort for someone with a long shopping list.
Myer is one of the reasons that online shopping is growing so fast in Australia. In December 2017, some 22% of all retailing in Australia was online.
Ask yourself, which of the following adjectives best describe Myer: cheap, extensive range, great service, attractive environment, convenient locations, or exclusive products?
Well, correct me if I am wrong, but Myer is not cheap, the range is no better than David Jones or half the specialty stores in the city, the service is non-existent, the environment is dull and boring, the locations are no better than anywhere else, and most products of merit are available just about anywhere.
So why shop at Myer? Stuffed if I know!
The CEO had to go, but so should the board of Myer.
As successful retailer Solomon Lew has said repeatedly, the board of Myer must take responsibility for its dreadful performance – and that performance is the direct outcome of a dreadful product delivered by successive management teams, selected and directed by successive boards.
But Myer is not alone.
So many big corporations in Australia are paying managers and directors obscenely high salaries in the face of declining performance. The old boys' club is alive and well in the halls of corporate Australia. They all look after each other, ensuring that even if customers miss out and shareholders are less than well-served, management and directors keep getting their oversized share of the pie.
When you look at international retailers such as Zara, Ikea, Apple and, to a lesser extent, David Jones (owned by Woolworths in South Africa), you are left wondering what is wrong with Australian managers and directors.
That said, If you take a look at Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments, it becomes apparent that at least some retailers get it.
Sadly, the standard of retailing in Australia is so low that there is little doubt that international retailers -- both on and offline -- will continue to stream into the country and take market share.