Announcing the decision at Super Retail’s annual general meeting in Brisbane today, chair Sally Pitkin said the search for a new CEO is underway and includes both internal and external candidates, as well as international candidates.
The transition is expected to occur in the second quarter of the 2019 calendar year, but the exact timing of Birtles’ departure depends on the outcome of the recruitment process.
“Peter is committed to ensuring a smooth transition and in the meantime has assured the board he will retain his strong focus on running the business until his successor is in place,” Pitkin said.
“At the appropriate time we will have a lot more to say about Peter’s tenure and contributions to your company,” she told investors, “but on behalf of the board, I would like to thank him today for his dedication to the business and leadership of the group.
“He has overseen the transformation of Super Retail Group into a leading omni-retailer in a tough environment for the retail sector.”
Super Retail Group provided a trading up date on its performance so far in FY19, revealing sales growth across its four major businesses.
In the 16 weeks to 20 October 2018, Supercheap Auto saw like-for-like sales grow 3.1 per cent; rebel, which last fiscal year completed the integration of 68 Amart Sports stores, saw like-for-like sales grow 2.4 per cent; BCF saw like-for-like sales grow 2.4 per cent; while newly acquired Macpac saw like-for-like sales grow 8.4 per cent.
Birtles called this a “solid start” to the 2019 fiscal year, but citing some signs that the retail consumer is being more cautious, he said it was important for the business to get the balance right between driving sales and managing margin as it moves into the major trading period of the year.
Birtles revealed that all businesses are now operating on a new digital platform, which he called a “major milestone” on the group’s journey towards becoming a world class omni-retail organisation,
“We are now focused on utilising the platform to provide a more engaging online offer to our customers including the ability to provide access to a much wider range of products than we carry in our retail stores,” he said.