Myer’s biggest stakeholder and strongest critic, Solomon Lew, is warning shareholders face yet another company profit downgrade and has lashed out at the retailer’s executive chairman, Garry Hounsell, for the latest results.
Mr Lew, chairman of Premier Investments which is Myer’s largest shareholder, has maintained a long and strident campaign to oust Myer’s board amid losses and a slide in sales.
On Friday he told fellow stakeholders they may never see a dividend again from the department store giant unless the current board goes.
‘Myer has been on aggressive sales mode for most of this year, and it’s just not working,’ Mr Lew said on Friday in a statement.
‘Worse still, the heavy discounts will blow an even bigger hole in Myer’s losses.’
Mr Lew again took aim at Myer’s executive chairman, Garry Hounsell, for drawing a salary of $83,000 per month in the role he took up after CEO Richard Umbers exited.
Mr Lew slammed Mr Hounsell’s statement, made at Myer’s third-quarter results on Wednesday, that a warm start to the winter season was to blame for a fall in the department store’s sales.
Myer on Wednesday reported a 2.7 per cent fall in third-quarter sales to $635.3 million compared to the same period a year ago, and warned ‘unseasonably’ warm weather could hit fourth-quarter profits.
Its key like-for-like sales, which strips out new stores and closures, fell 3.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to April 28, with Citi on Wednesday saying the result was better than the 3.6 per cent decline in the second quarter.
‘The weather has been great for retail during May, and industry feedback is that other retailers have had a stunning Mothers’ Day sales result,’ Mr Lew said on Friday.
‘If only Mr Hounsell knew retail as well as he knows excuses.’
Mr Lew also mentioned the department store chain’s incoming chief executive, Briton John King for the first time, calling him a ‘new CEO from Fort Lauderdale in Florida’.
‘However he will still be saddled with the same failed board, none of whom can help him succeed because they are not retailers,’ Mr Lew said.
Despite the broadside, Myer shares were higher on Friday.
The Australian newspaper reported American global asset management firm Oaktree Capital may be looking at acquiring the troubled department store operator if it heads into voluntary administration.
Myer shares were 4.1 per cent higher at 44.75 cents by 1455 AEST on Friday.