After David Jones rubbed Myer’s nose
into the dirt with its latest profit result on Tuesday, the rumor mill
is going into overdrive as the Coles Myer board contemplates what on
earth they can do to turn things around.
Crikey hears that
long-serving head office finance man Ken Latchford has been sent into
Myer by CEO John Fletcher as the acting chief financial officer.
Latchford was treasurer at the time of the Yannon scandal in the mid
1990s, and is a veteran of the rough and tumble inside the retailing
This raises the question of what to do with Myer CEO Dawn
Robertson? While there are still rumours that she’ll be moved on after
her third anniversary in the job passes on 11 May, Fletcher is said to
have a high regard for her talents and talk is surfacing that she might
be promoted to the re-created position of CEO general merchandise.
Fletcher first took over at Coles Myer he abandoned the strategy of
having two senior deputies, one running food and liquor and the other
running general merchandise. The new strategy was to appoint executives
to run the individual brands such as Kmart, Target, Myer, Coles,
Officeworks and Liquorland.
But when English import Steve Cain
was fired from his post running supermarkets late last year, Fletcher
went back to the future and appointed Kmart boss Hani Zayadi as head of
an expanded food and liquor division.
This led to another round
of shuffling in February when the board announced Fletcher would be
staying beyond September 2006. The message seemed to be that Fletcher
was there for the long term so the following moves were his long term
stamp on the business. These changes saw Larry Davis move from Target
to Kmart and Launa Inman shift from Officeworks to Target.
leaves one obvious move to complete the chain – promoting Dawn
Robertson to be in charge of Myer, Target and Kmart as the over-arching
boss of general merchandise. This would almost certainly upset fellow
American Larry Davis, who sees himself as the saviour of Target and the
heir apparent to Fletcher.
But it would not look good to promote
Dawn when Myer was struggling. Unless, of course, Myer was sold and a
new position had to be found for Dawn. Maybe this explains why the
financial hard men have been sent into the division which now seems to
be more trouble than it’s worth with all the media and market attention
on its troubles.