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Current as of 07/12/16 07:39PM NZST
Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

New Warehouse boss takes helm of a steady ship

Outgoing chief executive Mark Powell addresses the annual meeting of The Warehouse Group. Photo / Doug Sherring
Outgoing chief executive Mark Powell addresses the annual meeting of The Warehouse Group. Photo / Doug Sherring

Mark Powell will hand over The Warehouse Group to successor Nick Grayston this month after a strong Christmas period and strong lift in its forecast net profit.

This week the country's largest listed retailer forecast a 15 per cent to 21 per cent lift in first-half net profit expecting to range between $43 million and $45 million.

Director of First Retail Group Chris Wilkinson said he expected Noel Leeming would have had strong sales, thanks in part to the collapse of Dick Smith.

Nick Grayston will take over from Mark Powell at the end of January.
Nick Grayston will take over from Mark Powell at the end of January.

"I think a lot of consumers saw the Dick Smith writing on the wall, so no doubt Noel Leeming would have picked up a lot of Dick Smith's customers."

Wilkinson said Grayston was taking over The Warehouse Group at a time when the Red Shed stores were in a strong position with consumers.

"The Warehouse has developed a lot more contemporary offer in the last 12 months. There's a lot of very cool products coming through."

A development in the brands being stocked had "blurred the lines" for consumers.

"Once upon a time people had firmly put The Warehouse in a discount category. Now they've got many of these contemporary products and good brands coming through.

Changes to the layout of the Red Sheds and the format to the stores was done with "a lot of foresight" by "change agent" Powell, Wilkinson said.

"He's going to hand over the group in a pretty good position."

READ MORE:
Warehouse forecasts steep rise in first-half profit
Dick Smith failure: Too soon to know why
'Nesting' move behind NZ retail boost

Wilkinson said he thought Warehouse Stationery would be an area of growth for the group.

"They've got a very clear proposition when many of their competitors have a bit more of a confused offering where stationery is more of a adjunct to the business as opposed to the core purpose."

At the annual meeting late last year, chairman Ted van Arkel said the board expected full year net profit to be broadly in line with the $57.1 million achieved in 2015, which was slightly down on the $60.7 million posted in 2014.

Grayston was born in England and has relocated to New Zealand from Chicago for the role.

He has held a number of positions with top US retailer Sears Holdings, which sells footwear, homeware, fine jewellery and apparel, following 10 years with Foot Locker in Europe and then the US.

His appointment was announced in October.

The Warehouse Group comprises 92 The Warehouse stores, 73 Noel Leeming stores, 65
Warehouse Stationery stores and 10 Torpedo7 stores along with several online businesses.

- NZ Herald

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