United Kingdom

Department store Myer is a 'sinking ship' and 'heading towards administration'

Myer is heading towards administration despite a desperate attempt to restructure its board, billionaire businessman Solomon Lew has claimed. 

The department store reported a full-year loss of $172.4 million earlier this month after sales fell more than 15 per cent from temporary store closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

And on Wednesday, Myer announced two non-executive directors had decided to retire at the 2020 Annual General Meeting and they do not intend to seek re-election.

'As a result of this, and with a view to further reducing Board costs, Myer will not be seeking to replace these positions,' a statement read. 

But Mr Lew - who is Myer's largest shareholder - said cutting two board directors was simply a 'drop in the ocean'. 

Myer is heading towards administration despite a desperate attempt to restructure its board, billionaire businessman Solomon Lew says

'The ship is sinking. What does it matter if you pay the captain a bit less on the way to the bottom?' he told Sydney Morning Herald.

'My position hasn't changed. The entire Myer board and its chief executive officer should resign immediately.' 

Mr Lew invested $101 million in Myer in 2017 and alleges the board was not forthcoming about their 'poor position'. 

'When we invested nearly three years ago, and I think we invested on information that wasn't correct,' he said. 

Mr Lew said it appears administration is a likely outcome for the retailer. 

Myer's Chairman Garry Hounsell said the department store had been considering the board's size 'for some time'.

'Following the decisions of both Lyndsey Cattermole AM and Julie Ann Morrison to retire at the upcoming Annual General Meeting, the Board will be reduced to five directors, including the CEO and Managing Director,' he said on Wednesday.

Myer said the chairman and other non-executive directors elected to forego their director fees for a period during April 'when all stores were closed and team members were stood down due to COVID-19'. 

'Additionally, for a period in May and June, the non-executive directors elected to receive reduced Director fees,' Myer said.

'Furthermore, from 1 July 2020, the chairman and non-executive directors also elected to reduce their annual base fee to $250,000 (from $300,000) and $100,000 (from $120,000) respectively.'

The reduced fees will remain in place for at least two years. 

Mr Hounsell said reduced fees reflect the ongoing focus on costs in the current operating climate.  

A woman in a face mask walks past the Myer store in Sydney's CBD during the coronavirus pandemic

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