Officeworks MD Mark Ward to retire

m-ward---2017Officeworks managing director Mark Ward has announced his intention to retire at the end of the year after eleven years at the helm of the office supplies chain.

Ward is the third senior executive in parent-company Wesfarmers talent stable to announce their departure so far this year.

Bunnings UK & Ireland boss PJ Davis stepped down earlier this year, while Coles managing director John Durkan announced his intention to step down at the end of 2018 in March.

The departures come after Wesfarmers’ former managing director Richard Goyder handed over the reins to Rob Scott late last year, departing with long standing chief financial officer Terry Bowen.

Ward said in a statement on Monday that the “time was right” for someone else to steer the ship at Officeworks.

“Collectively we have come a long way on our purpose of ’helping to make bigger things happen’, but we still have much to do in an ever changing and highly competitive environment,” Ward said.

“I am very confident that, with the quality of Officeworks’ team and the plans now in place, Officeworks can continue to grow and be successful.”

Ward will remain in his role until the end of 2018 while a replacement is finalised, after which he is said to be remaining with the Wesfarmers group on its newly formed analytics advisory board.

He will also be a member of the Bunnings Australia and New Zealand board and will lead a group wide safety improvement project.

Wesfarmers managing director Robb Scott said internal and external candidates will be considered for Ward’s replacement, thanking the retail executive for his “outstanding” work on the business following the takeover of Coles group in 2007.

“Mark has been a highly valued member of our leadership team,” Scott said. “He has been a brilliant leader of Officeworks in a distinctively quiet and unassuming way.”

“Officeworks has been an incredibly successful retailer for many years. In an industry sector where many of the competitors have struggled or disappeared, Officeworks has gone from strength to strength.”

Officeworks has been a consistent performer for Wesfarmers for a number of years, booking a 7.2 per cent increase in sales in the most recent March quarter.

Revenue increased by 9.7 per cent in the first half while earnings also increased by 9.7 per cent.

Officeworks’ revenue increased by 9.7 per cent in the first half  of fiscal 18 while earnings also increased by 9.7 per cent.

Wesfarmers had tried to spin the business off last year by pursuing a public float, but those plans were abandoned due to subdued market sentiment.

In recent years Ward has overseen an evolution at Officeworks that has embraced multi-channel retail initiatives, cementing the business as a market leader in its category while also expanding into a range of new-to-market technology products.

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