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Retail veterans step down from Premier Investments board

Dr Gary WeissPremier Investments have announced the retirement of two retail veterans from its board.

Lindsay Fox has announced he will retire from the retail group’s board after 30 years of service, before the end of the current financial year.

Meanwhile Dr Gary Weiss will step down after 23 years of service, also before July 2018.

Premier said it’s currently reviewing potential directors for the purpose of filling vacancies ensuring that the board comprises a majority of independent directors.

Premier’s chairman, Solomon Lew, has laid down his plan for the turnaround of Myer, detailing a seven point plan to shareholders ahead of the department store retailer’s AGM this Friday.

Dr Weiss is also the chairman of Dreamworld operator Ardent Leisure, who are hoping next year’s Commonwealth Games will boost business.

Acting chief executive Geoff Richardson on Monday said the theme parks division, which experienced a drop in visitors in the months after the fatal Dreamworld accident in October 2016, was now trading above break even.

Ardent expects the theme parks to make a positive contribution over the remainder of the current financial year.

“Despite the challenging year, guest satisfaction and feedback at Dreamworld continue to be excellent, and we look forward to a strong holiday period and hopefully a boost from the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be held on the Gold Coast,” Richardson said.

Ardent’s theme parks reported an earnings loss of $3.4 million in 2016/17, compared to a profit of $34.7 million the previous year.

Richardson, who stepped in this month when Simon Kelly quit after just five months as chief executive, said Ardent is tracking broadly in line with expectations for core earnings ahead of the key holiday trading season.

Ardent said it will provide a further trading result when it announces its half-year results in February.

Dr Weiss said the 12 months following the Dreamworld tragedy, in which four people died, had presented many challenges.

He said Ardent’s financial results for fiscal 2017 were clearly disappointing.

The accident and the subsequent closure for 45 days of Dreamworld and the adjoining WhiteWater World hit attendance and revenues at the theme parks, as well as Ardent’s share price.

Dr Weiss, who was appointed chairman of Ardent in September, said the board’s goal is to rebuild trust and confidence in the safety of Dreamworld.

Dr Weiss said he was committed to creating a stable board environment after numerous changes of directors and management during the past year.

He said the board will start a search for a new group chief executive, as well as chief executives for Ardent’s Main Event entertainment centre business in the US and the bowling and entertainment business in Australia.

Ardent incurred a net loss of $62.6 million in the 2016/17 financial year, down from a profit of $42.4 million in the prior year, driven mainly by writedowns and subdued trading at Dreamworld.

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