Exclusive by Patrick Avenell
MELBOURNE, VIC & SYDNEY, NSW: On a day when both CEOs received widespread coverage for very different reasons, both JB Hi-Fi boss Richard Uechtritz and his counterpart at Clive Peeters, Greg Smith, spoke effusively about the ups and downs facing their opposing retail chain.
For Uechtritz, it was a marquee day, with JB announcing record sales and profits. Smith, however, spent the day talking about how an employee gleaned millions of dollars from Clive Peeters’ accounts, before splashing the cash on real estate and fast cars. Current.com.au asked both CEOs to offer their thoughts on their CE retail rival.
“[JB Hi-Fi are] in an absolute sweet spot with the type of products they sell at the moment,” said Smith. “Their average sale of products is very low and it’s in high demand from the consumers and has been throughout.
“They’re in a space of their own and good luck to them.”
Smith’s reference to the average sale price at JB is important. He has repeatedly said that the economic downturn has hit the big ticket retailers the hardest. This is a big challenge for the Clive Peeters brand, and one Uechtritz is aware of.
“I think he’s handled the challenges that he’s had very well,” said Uechtritz. “It wouldn’t be easy, so good luck to him. We obviously compete fiercely as competitors but I feel for him personally. At the end of the day, we’ve got to run a business for our shareholders and personal feelings can’t come into it.”
Considering the amazing news emanating from Clive Peeters throughout yesterday, we asked Uechtritz if JB Hi-Fi was set up to prevent and detect large scale embezzlement.
“I think we’ve got good processes and good disciplines, and without going into the detail of them, we’re very comfortable that we have the checks in place to ensure that what happened to Clive Peeters doesn’t happen to us.
“From time to time things can slip through the cracks, but I’m very confident that we don’t have anything like that happening at JB.”
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