How the new CEO of Myer plans to save the department store

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • The new CEO of Myer has a plan to rejuvenate the department store.
  • In his first 100 days in the job, John King has cut costs, ditched managers, negotiated rent reductions and closed a better loan deal with banks.
  • Myer is also re-launching its website, part of a plan for more online sales.

Myer will re-launch its website later this month, making it faster and more user friendly, as part of the department store’s plans to rejuvenate the business for the critical Christmas trading period.

John King, who started as CEO in June, today apologised for the company’s annual results, saying “shareholders deserve better”.

Myer posted a full year statutory loss of $486 million. Underlying net profit was $32.47 million, down 52%.

King has been cutting costs, ditching managers and executives, negotiating rent reductions and closed a better loan deal with banks.

He is the former CEO of the UK’s House of Fraser, a business he restructured, culminating in a sale to Chinese conglomerate Sanpower in 2014.

His challenge is to turn around a businesses caught in the local bricks and mortar retail slump in the face of poor consumer sentiment and increasing digital competition.

In his first 100 days at Myer, the experienced fashion retail executive has personally visited 44 stores, met with customers, team members, suppliers, brand partners and landlords.

“We know our customers want high quality, on trend products, at the right price, supported by great customer service,” he says.

“With this customer in mind, we are making changes to our product ranges, store layouts, and online offering and we have worked to influence how we will trade Christmas 2018.”

The key points of King’s Customer First plan for Myer:

Focus areas:

  • Transform customer experience in store;
  • Only at Myer brands and categories; value for money; and
  • Continue enhancing myer.com.au.

Efficiency levers:

  • Simplified business processes;
  • Efficient from factory to customer; and
  • Accelerated cost reduction.

A slide from the 2018 results presentation:

King says the launch of a new Myer website will significantly enhance the overall user experience, including those on mobile devices, with faster search capability, clearer filtering and navigation, improved presentation of merchandise and clearer, more engaging brand and editorial journeys.

Getting more business online is a focus. And this has seen improvements, with sales up 34% to $192.5 million. Sales by Myer staff using iPads on the shop floor were $30.8 million and click and collect sales jumped seven percentage points to 19% of orders.

“Elsewhere in the business, we have reduced costs that do not directly benefit the customer or enhance their experience in store or online,” he says.

“This includes removing a number of executive and management roles to put in place a more streamlined and accountable structure at the Support Office that is more closely aligned with our customers.

“We will be working closely with our suppliers and brand partners to put customers first — in every action we take, and every decision we make.

“We are committed to ensuring Myer is Australia’s favourite department store providing friendly, helpful service; high quality and exclusive brands; and offering compelling value.”

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