Coles
Myer seems to be up to its old tricks, building a nice, comfortable, clubby
feeling in the boardroom, now there’s a bit of performance under the belt and
the near disaster of three or four years ago is just a
memory.

The
retailer, which yesterday reported an indifferent result with a 1.6% growth in
net earnings (on just a lacklustre growth in
earnings before interest and tax) today appointed a new director.

Belinda
Hutchinson has no retail experience whatsoever (although there’s a couple of
experienced retailer hands on the board already), but she’s an experienced
company director, numbering Telstra as one of her boards, and
QBE.

At
Telstra, she shares the board with John Fletcher, the CEO of Coles Myer, making
the retailer’s boardroom a sort of Telstra outpost and giving it a Melbourne clubbish atmosphere.

Being
on the board of Telstra would be a tough gig at the best of times, let
alone now, so you have to ask whether she and Fletcher can do justice to both
companies.

In fact,
Telstra announced Friday morning that its much
anticipated review, due to be released late next month, will be delayed and not
seen until mid-November.

Let’s
hope that the delay is due to the complexity of the task and not some hiccup on
the board.

At
Coles Myer, Mr Fletcher is already
having to drive the sale of the poorly performing Myer Department stores,
and the new five year strategic review.

So he’s a lot on his plate. Ms Hutchinson now adds the Myer disposal and review to
her plate. Let’s
hope that there are no problems for her other main board, QBE.

Well,
how about grappling with the impact of Hurricane Katrina and possibly the next
one, Rita, this weekend?

Peter Fray

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