British high street veteran John King, the former CEO of House of Fraser, has been named as the new CEO of Australian department store Myer.
King, who headed up House of Fraser from 2006 to 2015, will be joining the business subject to visa approval and takes over from Richard Umbers, who stood down in February. Since Umbers’ departure Myer chairman Gerry Hounsell has been running the business.
“I am excited to lead this iconic Australian Company, which like all global retailers, is facing significant change in both the retail environment and consumer shopping habits,” King said.
Like some British department stores, Myer has been facing challenges in recent years and was recently the subject of takeover speculation with rumours suggesting South Africa’s Woolworths, which owns rival Australian department store David Jones, was considering a bid.
While at House of Fraser, King oversaw its sale to Chinese conglomerate Sanpower in 2014 and departed the following year handing the reins to Nigel Oddy. Oddy himself stood down in 2016 to be replaced by Alex Williamson last year.
The British department store has since faced a number of challenges since King’s departure including a painful re-platforming of its website, the shift of consumers to online and a downturn in consumer spending. It is currently being advised by KPMG on options for its future.
However Hounsell praised King’s track record while at House of Fraser including the refurbishment of 70% of its store estate, a move to online and an increase in EBITDA. “John understands fashion, retailing and customers — particularly at department stores,” he said.