Christopher Adams

Christopher Adams is the Markets and Banking reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Business leader of the year finalist 2013: Mark Powell

Mark Powell dreams of the Warehouse Group becoming New Zealand's leading multi-channel retailer. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Mark Powell dreams of the Warehouse Group becoming New Zealand's leading multi-channel retailer. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Over the past two years The Warehouse Group has embarked on a wide-ranging strategy aimed at returning New Zealand's biggest listed retail business to its former glory.

Spearheading that push has been Welshman Mark Powell, a former coal miner, who joined the company in 2002 and took its helm as group chief executive in 2011 following a stint in charge of its stationery division.

The retailer had suffered from years of underinvestment, particularly in its core Red Sheds division, which was showing up in its financial results.

Under Powell's watch The Warehouse Group has embarked on a $180 million refurbishment programme for the Red Sheds stores and has made eight acquisitions - including national electronics retailer Noel Leeming and a 51 per cent stake in online sportsgear seller Torpedo7 - with the aim of becoming "New Zealand's leading multichannel retailer".

While Powell would be the first to admit that the company's turnaround remains in its early stages, 11 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth have been reported at the Red Sheds over the last few years.

The Warehouse Group reported a 13 per cent lift in adjusted net profit to $73.7 million in the last 12 months.

The company's shares have gained around 18 per cent in the past year.

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