Glubb out, Domecq takes control at NZ Post's Localist
Localist CEO Blair Glubb has resigned, NZ Post confirmed to NBR ONLINE.
Mr Glubb left the building last week, without any public announcement. NBR understands he is now on holiday in the UK.
Christina Domecq - a controversial American consultant who parachuted in last year to help with a restructure - has been appointed interim Localist CEO.
She was appointed by Localist chairman Paul Reid (who also serves as NZ Posts general manager for innovation and strategy).
Here prior role prior role with Localist was as an executive advisor to the board and technical advisor to the CEO.
Will she stay in the big chair?"
"We're looking at a capital raising process for Localist so there could be implications from that," NZ Post external relations manager John Tulloch told NBR ONLINE when asked if Ms Domecq's position could be made permanent.
The capital raising round was announced in November. NZ Post is seeking an outside investor in Localist, which competes with Yellow in the Auckland business directory market.
Initially, an outside investor would likely take a minority stake, but they could potentially take majority control down the track, Mr Tulloch says. Either way, they could have their own ideas about who should lead the company.
The move to appoint Grant Samuel & Associates Limited as financial adviser for the capital raising process, in October last year, came as NZ Post impaired $13.3 million of the $26.5 million it has lent to Localist (at this point a fully-owned subsidiary).
There is an industry rumour that Ms Domecq - who hails from the family that founded a Spanish sherry dynasty and was part of Allied Domecq before its acquisition by Pernod Ricard in 2005 - is putting some of her own money into Localist. Mr Tulloch says she is a consultant only.
Mr Glubb's departure was described as amicable.
"He was brought in to head up a startup and he put his heart and soul into it for three years," Mr Tulloch told NBR. "He got it to an end point in terms of break-even being in sight, and digital revenue being ahead of budget. After three solid years he felt it was time to move on."
Mr Glubb could not immediately be reached for comment. It was one of his former staff members, rather than NZ Post, who brought his departure to NBR's attention.
Localist was founded as a print and online business in the Auckland market, including five hardcopy directories for different areas of the city.
Last year's restructure saw some managers and sales staff culled as the site moved to an online only model, framed by then chairman Sam Knowles as a natural evolution.
Localist has also become one of three top-tier Google Ad Words partners for NZ (the others are Yellow and Gopher) in a nod to the reality that most people looking for business directory information use the dominant search engine as their starting point.
Today, Mr Tulloch said Localist was once again in expansion mode.
A sales team was being put together in Wellington ahead of a Localist launch in the capital. A Hamilton operation would be set up soon.
NBR has requested with an interview with Christine Domecq. NZ Post declined on the basis it wanted to get through its capital raising process first. The search for an outside investor was described as "reasonably well advanced."