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MoneyThe Reject Shop CEO heads for exit as sales dive, competition bites

02:05  24 may  2019
02:05  24 may  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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The Reject Shop CEO heads for exit as sales dive, competition bites© Patrick Scala Reject Shop chief Ross Sudano is leaving the company.

The Reject Shop will part ways with its chief executive Ross Sudano and has revealed it is heading for a full-year loss, as sales evaporate and it cuts prices amid fierce competition from supermarkets and department stores.

The discount retail chain on Thursday said it now expected to run at a loss of $1 million to $2 million this year - a downgrade from earlier guidance for a profit of $3 million to $4 million.

Reject Shop shares fell 7.5 per cent on the news to $2.10 - well below highs of $6.75 it was trading at 12 months ago, and the $2.70 offered in a takeover bid led by packaging enterpreneur Ruffy Geminder late last year.

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Low consumer confidence, flat wages and the falling housing market had hurt sales, which have fallen 2.7 per cent in the year to date on a same-store basis, the company said.

Profitability was also hurt by major supermarkets and department store competitors cutting prices in some of its key product categories, forcing it to also cut prices.

"This is an extremely disappointing result for our shareholders," said chairman Bill Stevens.

“While a range of new initiatives had been identified to address declining sales in the second half, they have not been landed successfully."

The Reject Shop CEO heads for exit as sales dive, competition bites© The Age/SMH The Reject Shop is heading for a full-year loss. The Reject Shop made a $10.6 million profit in the first half of the year, suggesting it is on track to lose up to $12 million in the current half.

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Mr Stevens said the company's board  had decided Mr Sudano should leave the business in the "near term", and make way for a CEO who could " bring renewed energy and vigour to the role".

Raphael Geminder, the Melbourne-based billionaire founder of the Pact Group, launched a $78 million takeover bid for the company late last year.

That bid ultimately failed, but Mr Geminder did secure a 19 per cent stake in the company.

On Thursday Zac Midalia was appointed to the company's board as Mr Geminder's representative to its board, along with Breville Group chairman Steven Fisher as an independent director.

The Reject Shop's general manager of supply chain, strategy and innovation, Dani Aquilina, has been appointed as the company's acting CEO while a permanent replacement is found.

"One of the key priorities for the new leadership of the business is to generate sales growth and develop strategies to respond to the challenging retail environment," Mr Stevens said.

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