New JB Hi-Fi chief sticks to expansion plans

Terry Smart's priorities include steadily growing the company and taking advantage of an improving economy

JB Hi-Fi’s (ASX:JBH) new CEO, Terry Smart, is committed to incremental growth and capitalising on an improving economy as his initial priorities.

Smart, formerly the retailer’s executive director and COO, has taken over the CEO role from retiring managing director and CEO Richard Uechtritz.

The transition in management is effective towards the end of May.

In his new role, Smart will initially oversee the expansion of the number of shops within the country and New Zealand.

The retailer announced it would successfully open 22 new stores in its FY10 – raising the Australia and New Zealand total to 140.

Smart reaffirmed the retailer’s commitment to opening 210 stores.

He was optimistic about his company’s position in the market, and foresaw an improvement to the retail market over the next 12 months, with low unemployment helping to generate consumer spend.

“It is tough at the moment, but we’d like to think that as people re-base themselves and interest rates settle down, the economy will improve,” Smart said.

JB Hi-Fi was one of the few retailers to perform remarkably well throughout the financial crisis.

In its recent results it observed a trend towards the larger players, such as itself, Harvey Norman and The Good Guys, continuing to grow at the expense of the smaller outlets.