As weak trading continues.

Myer CEO and managing director, Richard Umbers has stepped down from his role and chairman, Garry Hounsell has been appointed executive chairman, effective immediately, as the search for a new CEO and MD commences.

The announcement follows a trading update on Tuesday that reported a 6.5% drop in total sales for January during its key Stocktake Sale period. Total sales in 1H 2018 were down 3.6% to $1.72 billion, down 3% on a comparable store sales basis. Online sales in 1H 2018 were up 48.9%, following a 48.4% increase in 1H 2017.

Umbers said the significant deterioration in trading reflected ongoing challenging retail conditions with widespread industry discounting, a subdued performance of Myer’s Stocktake Sale and a continued shift in consumer behaviour characterised by reduced foot traffic and an increase in online shopping.

Commenting on Umbers’ departure, Hounsell said, “We are impatient for a turnaround in the company’s performance and the board has determined that it is in the interests of all shareholders for there to be a fresh approach to drive our future direction. This announcement reflects my desire to drive, first-hand, the urgency required to deliver shareholder value. I thank Richard for his hard work and commitment during the past three years and wish him well for the future.”

Myer anticipates 1H 2018 NPAT to be between $37 million and $41 million pre implementation costs and individually significant items. The department store is currently undertaking an impairment assessment of the carrying values of assets on the balance sheet and does not anticipate an improvement in retail trading conditions during the second half.