Myer has called Solomon Lew’s continued criticism of the department store chain ‘hostile and obstructive’, claiming the retail veteran is aiming to destabilise a competitor.
Myer executive chairman Garry Hounsell on Wednesday hit back at the latest attack by Mr Lew’s Premier Investments, and rejected its largest shareholder’s claim that Myer had engaged in extreme discounting in an unsuccessful attempt to arrest a slide in third-quarter sales.
‘Premier Investments continues to be engaged in a hostile and obstructive campaign that appears to be designed to destabilise Myer,’ Mr Hounsell said.
‘Premier Investments is conflicted because of its position as a major supplier and competitor to Myer.’
Mr Lew sent a letter to Myer shareholders on Friday, warning them to brace for another profit downgrade after Myer had reported a 2.7 per cent fall in third-quarter sales.
The retail veteran, who has called for an overhaul of the Myer board for not arresting an ongoing sales decline, also took aim again at Mr Hounsell for drawing a monthly salary of $83,000 while he temporarily assumed the duties of departed chief executive Richard Umbers.
Myer on Wednesday disputed Premier Investments’ contention that Mr Hounsell was self-appointed, and defended its approach to finding a new chief executive after Mr Umbers left in February.
‘Mr Hounsell has acted swiftly to secure a new CEO, John King, who has highly relevant international department store and retail experience,’ the company’s statement said.
Mr King will take charge on June 4.
Myer’s like-for-like sales fell 3.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to April 28, which was a slight improvement on the 3.6 per cent sales slump in the second quarter.
Mr Lew paid about $101 million for his 10.77 per cent stake in Myer in March 2017, and has since seen the value of his investment fall by about 60 per cent.
At 1253 AEST on Wednesday, Myer shares were four cents, or 8.5 per cent, lower at 43 cents.