By Paul Hayes in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, VIC: New JB Hi-Fi chief executive, Terry Smart, is definitely not intimidated in taking over the role from the highly successful outgoing chief, Richard Uechtritz.

Speaking face-to-face with at JB’s Melbourne head office, Smart said that in 10 years working with Uechtritz in his role as chief operating officer, he played a key role in many of the decisions made within the company in that time.

He is very comfortable in the role he has played in JB Hi-Fi’s success under Uechtritz, as well as in its future with him at the helm.

“While Richard was always working on the strategies of the business, it was always very much a collaborative process.

“Having worked to closely with him the transition is very smooth.”

Smart made it clear that whatever roads the retailer goes down under his stewardship, they have long been established, and are the same ones Uechtritz would have taken the company down.

“Any changes we are going to make, be it in merchandising, store locations, or rolling out stores, it would have happened if Richard was here or not. The direction is going to be exactly the same.

“It is, and was always going to be, business as usual.

“Our strategy is very much set today and it has been for the last few years.”

Given JB Hi-Fi’s roaring success over the past decade, that strategy is to continue with nationwide expansion over the next several years.

“We now definitely know where we want the stores to be. It’s about rolling those out to the target of 210 stores in total,” said Smart.

“That leaves us with about 80-odd stores to still open and we open 13-15 a year, so that’s 5-6 years worth of store openings ahead of us.”

As for whether any of those new stores will be old Clive Peeters locations, Smart was non-committal at best, sharing his predecessor’s view that the potentially available stores may simply be too big for the JB Hi-Fi model.

“The real estate on its own is probably too big.

“But that doesn’t discount the fact there may be some sites, and this is still yet to be determined, that could be of interest if they were divided up.”