Embattled retailer Myer has recruited former UK department stores boss John King to be its next chief executive following a three-month international search.

Myer executive chairman Garry Hounsell says Mr King led the turnaround of UK department store chain House of Fraser while CEO in the eight years to 2015.

Mr King playing a central role in lifting House of Fraser’s revenues and earnings, Mr Hounsell said, by improving the product offering, launching a successful online business, cutting debt and refurbishing stores.

“During his career, John has gained significant experience across all aspects of merchandise as well as store operations, e-commerce, sourcing and supply chain,” Mr Hounsell said in a statement to the ASX on Monday.

“John will bring a new perspective to Myer and has been given a full mandate by the board to deliver an improvement in financial performance.”


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Mr King, who has 30 years of retail experience, will take on the leadership as Myer faces threats of a board spill from its biggest shareholder and strongest critic, Solomon Lew.

He replaces Richard Umbers, who was forced out in February after he failed to turn Myer’s fortunes around in the three years he was the troubled retailer’s CEO.

Myer slumped to a $476.2 million half-year loss in March due a hefty writedown in goodwill and a longstanding slide in sales.

Mr King’s starting date is yet to be determined and depends on when he can receive a visa to work in Australia.

His base pay, including superannuation, will be $1.2 million and he will be granted $900,000 worth of Myer share rights over three years as “alignment equity”.

The new CEO’s base pay is slightly higher than the $1.18 million Mr Umbers was paid in 2016/17.

However Mr King will also be eligible for short term incentives worth 80 per cent of his fixed salary from 2019/20, the majority to be paid in cash.

Mr Umbers’ overall remuneration was $1.4 million in 2016/17 and $1.9 million a year earlier.

Myer shares rose on Mr King’s appointment, gaining 8.5 per cent to close at 38.5 cents, which is still close to their all-time low.

Myer said Mr King has held various consulting roles to retailers in the US since leaving House of Fraser in early 2015 after the company was sold to a Chinese conglomerate.

Prior to House of Fraser, Mr King led British fashion and homeware retailer Matalan’s 200 stores for three years.

He started his career at UK supermarket giant Sainsbury in the early 80s before working as a menswear merchandiser at UK department store chain Marks and Spencer.