Smith steps down as Warehouse chairman

Founder Sir Stephen Tindall says further board changes can be expected.

Keith Smith is stepping down as chairman of The Warehouse [NZX:WHS] as new chief executive Mark Powell takes up office in place of departing Scot Ian Morrice.

Mr Smith will stay on the board as “deputy chairman” with director Graham Evans taking over as chairman of the discount retailer.

Mr Evans has been a director since 1998 having previously spent 14 years as managing director of Woolworths NZ.

The changes take effect from May 2.

Founder Sir Stephen Tindall said further board changes could be expected.

“While Keith is stepping down as chairman I am delighted he has agreed to remain on the board, as deputy chairman, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role.”

Mr Morrice, who joined The Warehouse from the UK in 2004, is also stepping down as managing director.

He said he would assume a support role for Mr Powell for the remainder of the year.

“Mark already knows the business well and has had sufficient time to reorientate himself with the Red Sheds business over the last few months,” Mr Morrice said in a statement.

Mr Powell has been at The Warehouse since immigrating to New Zealand from Wales in 2002.

He takes over as The Warehouse struggles against headwinds of the extended cyclical downturn in retail spending.

The group's latest unaudited results showed after tax profit fell 8.9% to $52.3 million compared to $57.4 million in the first half of 2010. Revenue was down 1.2% to $908 million compared to $918.9 million.

Store sales at the Red Sheds were reported at $808.1 million, down 1.2 %compared to the first half last year, generating an operating profit of $74 million, which was 5.9% lower period-on-period.

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