JB Hi-Fi CEO (ASX:JBH), Richard Uechtritz, is stepping down after announcing his company’s half-year profit jump of 29 per cent to $76 million. The result was achieved despite a tougher Christmas sales period.
Uechtritz leaves the retailer in top form after 10 years at the helm, having led it through years of steady growth in profit and market share against stiff competition and the recent Global Financial Crisis. He is being replaced by COO, Terry Smart, but will return as a non-executive director by July or August.
The move disappointed shareholders, and saw the retailer’s share price drop by 4.48 per cent to $19.20 since market opening today.
According to the JB Hi-Fi’s results, revenue rose by 23.16 per cent to $1.55 billion in the half-year ending December 31, 2009. Comparable store sales also grew strongly despite missing last year’s Government stimulus spending.
“We are once again extremely pleased with this strong result, particularly the comparable store sales growth of 6.5 per cent in December,” Uechtritz said. “JB has proven very resilient throughout the economic downturn, which led to low consumer confidence and spend.
“We opened new stores, expanded our offering and reduced our prices on the back of increased economies of scale and [had] a continued focus on cost.”
Analyst predictions of a slowdown in Christmas sales were recently borne out by December sales figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) , which showed a drop by 0.7 per cent.
Despite continuing doubts from both retail analysts and global markets, the retailer said it was on track to deliver its promise of a 20 per cent full-year revenue increase to $2.8bn. It also expects profits to rise 24-27 per cent to $117m-$120m.