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Myer board respond to latest in clash with Premier Chairman Lew

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By Published On: October 11, 20220 Comments

Retailer Myer and retail group Premier Investments, which oversees fashion retail brands including Just Jeans and Peter Alexander, have engaged in a public stoush as Premier led by Chairman Solomon Lew has gradually looked to increase its percentage of shares held for its retail rival.

In an AGM notice issued to its shareholders, Myer’s board explained that it had declined to support the proposed election of Premier and Just Group Non-Executive Director Terry McCarthy to its board, primarily citing conflict of interest concerns. 

The retailer further detailed the extent of Premier’s increased share ownership in recent months, having risen from 10.77 percent as of July 2021 to 22.87 percent at the time of the notice being issued, and detailed its hopes for securing agreements to a standstill on share assumptions by Premier until such a time as a formal takeover attempt be made.

In response, the Australian Financial Review reports, Premier Investments refused the request, calling it “surprising and inappropriate”.

The latest development comes just over a year after Lew and Premier pointedly sought the resignation of the Myer board, with Lew saying in a statement at the time, “We remain bitterly disappointed by Myer’s performance which continues to be disastrous for Myer’s many shareholders, employees, suppliers and customers.”

The relationship between Lew and Myer is one that is both long and contemptuous, with Lew having for a number of years acted as Director and then Chairman of Coles Myer, which oversaw ownership of Myer until the retailer’s divestment in 2006. Lew’s tenure in leadership roles with Coles Myer ended spectacularly in 2002, when his 17-year long stretch came to an end following a shareholder vote to remove him.

Outside of the stoush, both Myer and Premier Investments are celebrating renewed cause for celebration in recent weeks and months, with the pair each exceeding expectations for their FY22 results. Myer celebrated an enormous increase of more than 103 percent to its NPAT results for the period in an announcement to shareholders in mid-September, while Premier saw a more modest 4.9 percent gain in its NPAT from the results of the previous financial year, with both particularly driven by strong growth in online sales.

Share prices for Premier have seen a slight decline in the last week, falling from a high of $24.18 on October 4 to $22.98 at the most recent report, while Myer’s share prices have remained steady around 60 cents per share since a 2022 peak in mid-September.

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