Myer says trading is still difficult

Myer Spring fashion lunch at Flemington Racecourse . Sam Tabone/WireImage

Department store Myer is still fighting difficult trading conditions, its annual general meeting was told today.

Outgoing chairman chairman Paul McClintock told shareholders the company has continued to make strong progress across each of the key priorities of the New Myer strategy.

However, the company is awaiting the results of Christmas trading.

“You will have seen from our own sales figures, and those of the market generally, that trading conditions in the first half remain difficult,” he says.

“The company has not provided profit guidance this year, but as always, delivering a sound bottom line requires for us a good second quarter, and whilst we are better prepared than ever, we will still need the support of our customers.”

Earlier this month month Myer released a market update showing sales still under pressure. In the 13 weeks to Saturday, October 28, Myer recorded a 2.8% drop in sales to $699 million.

McClintock says Myer is rapidly evolving and adapting strategy in response to changing customer preferences, particularly online engagement and shopping habits.

“This has made us a more efficient and resilient business, which has in turn helped us to confront the challenging retail trading conditions,” he says.

“We are prioritising investments in our omni-channel business, in digital and data, and reinforcing our commitment to increased productivity and efficiency.

“Experiential retailing has been a key focus to drive traffic in our stores.

“We continue to innovate with new and unique experiences, ice skating, Teslas in stores, Katy Perry, new cafes and pop up shops have all featured in the past 12 months. We also introduced dedicated clearance floors which are now in eight stores.”

The current board of directors survived the AGM despite billionaire Solomon Lew urging shareholders to vote against them.

Lew, whose Premier Investments has 10.8% of Myer, has said he would use the AGM to express “complete disappointment and frustration” with the Myer Board of directors.

He also wanted three directors — two independent from Premier Investments and a third non-executive director — appointed to the Myer board.

However, the current board sees Premier Investments, with its brands Smiggle, Just Jean, Portmans and Peter Alexander, as a competitor.

Garry Hounsell took over as Chairman following the AGM.

“Myer’s shareholders have spoken and as Chairman of the company I am delighted with the clear mandate we have received to continue with the implementation of the New Myer strategy,” he says.

At the AGM, the board-sponsored candidates Hounsell, JoAnne Stephenson and Julie Ann Morrison were all elected.

“There are just 31 shopping days until Christmas, the most important trading period for the Company,” says Hounsell.

“The board, management and every member of Myer’s team are all focused on delivering for our customers and our shareholders.”

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