Unification of Retravision “crucial” to survival: new CEO

By Claire Reilly

Following Retravision’s announcement of a merger between the Southern, Northern and Western branches of the company, the newly-announced CEO of the national group, Paul Holt, has spoken with Current about the move and the effect it will have on the company’s path moving forward.

While Current previously reported that Retravision Western was not immediately involved in merger discussions, Holt (who is also CEO of Retravision Western) said it was a move that made sense.

“We’ve been interested in engaging in the conversation for some little time,” he said. “But we’d also been reviewing the possibility of another line of strategy which eventually we’ve decided not to pursue, on the basis that unification is the best option available to us.”

Holt would not be drawn on what this ‘other strategy’ was, but when asked how long Retravision Western had been involved in discussions, he said “not long”. He also clarified that “Western were going to be involved at a later stage” based on previous reports, but that they had “decided to be engaged rather earlier”.

However, the new CEO was positive about the merger, saying it was “crucial” if Retravision was to survive into the future.

“You look at the way the markets are changing these days – I think it’s very important from a supplier’s perspective to present simplicity and efficiency in supply chains.

“I’ve been in the business for nearly seven years now, and we’ve talked about bringing the organisation together for many, many years,” he added. “We’re a billion-dollar turnover business. We currently operate in three regional businesses, and though the relationship with everyone we’ve got in the supply chain is excellent, the problem is it’s the relationship times three.

“This adds a degree of complexity to the way that we do our business, particularly for our trading partners. And it’s that complexity that we’re really looking to address and resolve and simplify.

“Really the hard work starts now to bring all of this activity together, to streamline, centralise and really start to lock the synergies that are available in our organisation to the benefit of our trading partners and our store owners.

“Clearly there’s lots and lots and lots that we can do differently to become much better, fitter and stronger partners for our suppliers.”

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Current spoke to various key figures on the supply side of the industry who welcomed the Retravision merger, saying that an integrated Retravision would be better to deal with. Now, like its competitors, the company will be centralised, so decisions can be made faster and information can be made available more quickly.

A centralised business naturally needs a central hub, however Holt would not comment on where the head office of the new operation would be based or if he would even remain in Perth. He insisted that many of the logistical details would be ironed out “early in the New Year”.   

But as far as the general concept of a unified Retravision was concerned, Holt said the decision had been well received by retailers and suppliers alike.

“We released a statement to our suppliers and our staff and our stores yesterday, on the basis that we are focused on unifying the business. It was right across all the suppliers, all of the stores and I made a number of high level phone calls to our key trading partners.

“Everybody I spoke to yesterday sees it as an excellent announcement and the right way forward for our business. But I want to stress again – communicating our intentions is the easy bit. The hard work of making this all come about starts today.”

That hard work will include rolling out the store rebranding (which began in Retravision Southern stores under the leadership of former CEO, Tim Cockayne) across the national network.

“I’m hoping that a more disciplined, organised, unified approach is going to deliver real benefits for our suppliers and our store owners in general. What we’ve tried to do is take the opportunity of being a key part of the unification of this brand.”

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