The Courier-Mail

Stores close as Myer fights to regain ground

- JANE HARPER

NEW Myer chief Richard Umbers has taken a step towards reviving the fortunes of the embattled retailer, announcing a series of store closures.

In what is tipped to be the first step in reducing the size of the chain, the department store group has announced it will shut Sydney’s Top Ryde City store next month.

It will also close three specialty stores in Melbourne that had been set up under a 12month trial to sell brands exclusive to Myer.

“While significan­t insights have been gained from the trial, the decision has been made to close these stores at the end of August and to focus on the core Myer business in bricks and mortar and online,” the group said yesterday.

Myer said the decision to close the Top Ryde store was accelerate­d by plans to redevelop the centre. About 70 staff are employed by the stores, with not all expected to find alternativ­e roles at Myer.

Myer has kept its strategic plans closely under wraps since Mr Umbers (pictured) was appointed chief executive in March, replacing Bernie Brookes.

But Mr Umbers, the group’s former chief informatio­n and supply chain officer, did not rule out store closures when he announced a far-reaching review at the group’s first-half results in March.

He said the retailer needed to take “courageous and decisive action” to regain its relevance to consumers.

Earlier this year analysts said Myer was likely to be reconsider­ing its network size, p particular­ly in regional areas, with Citi analysts saying the group had the potential to close seven of its 67 stores.

Myer said yesterday it would provide a strategy update in due course.

Earlier this year the retailer announced it had recorded a 23 per cent slide in first-half profit to $62.2 million, for the six months to January 24.

But last month it chalked up its best quarterly sales figures in more than five years, with a 2.4 per cent lift in third-quarter sales to $661.8 million.

Myer shares closed 2¢ lower at $1.48 while the broader market also lost ground.

The ASX 200 fell 41.8 points to 5735.4 points with most of the major retailers finishing in the red.

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