New CEO is up to the job: Uechtritz endorses new JB boss

By Patrick Avenell

MELBROUNE, VIC: Outgoing JB Hi-Fi CEO Richard Uechtritz has today endorsed Terry Smart as the new boss of the phenomenal listed retailer. At the same time, the successful Uechtritz has deflected individual praise, saying that JB’s success has been a team effort.

In an interview with Current.com.au shortly after notifying the ASX of his departure, slated for July or August this year, Uechtritz said Smart would capably fill his otherwise formidable shoes.

“They are shoes that he can fill very well, because no one person is responsible,” said Uechtritz. “The success of the Australian cricket team is not Ricky Ponting: it’s the whole team; and the success of JB Hi-Fi is not Richard Uechtritz’s or Terry Smart’s: it’s a whole team of good people and Terry will more than adequately fill my shoes.”

Smart, who is currently the Chief Operating Officer, has worked with Uechtritz at JB Hi-Fi throughout the extraordinary emergence of this consumer electronics retailing powerhouse. Uechtritz said this was a move for consistency and that this smooth transition was great for investors and potential investors in JB Hi-Fi.

“It’s fantastic: fantastic for the shareholders and fantastic for the management here.

“Terry has been part of the JB success story, as have a number of people, over the years. He knows what makes JB a great company and he can do the role and be a wonderful CEO.

“It’s a smooth transition in the sense that Terry has intimate knowledge of the company. He’s been here as long as I have, we’ve worked together and he knows what makes JB a great company, it’s not as though we’re moving [to] an executive from another industry…it will be more of the same of what’s made JB great over the last 10 years.”

As for the past, Uechtritz said his proudest achievement was taking JB Hi-Fi from its small Melbourne roots up to become “one of Australia’s largest retail companies and brandnames,” as he put it. Although he didn’t list any major disappointments, he did say he has made some mistakes. But, in his words, “Thankfully [I’ve] made more right decisions than wrong decisions.”

When asked what the future held upon his retirement, Uechtritz was somewhat equivocal, saying he had “personal and philosophical” goals he wanted to complete. Interestingly, Uechtritz did not rule out one day working at a different company, though he did say he had no interest in a political career.

Uechtritz will return to JB Hi-Fi as a non-executive director in early 2010.

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