Specialty Fashion Group CEO set to retire

Gary Perlstein By Richard Nolan-Neylan 2013_0197Gary Perlstein is stepping down as CEO of Specialty Fashion Group (SFG), which is the owner of brands including Millers, Katies and Rivers, after 14 years in the role.

Perlstein will retire from both his executive and board roles once “an appropriate process has taken place to identify and appoint a successor,” SFG said in a statement.

“SFG has been a significant part of my life for the past 24 years,” said Perlstein in a statement.

“As a significant investor in SFG, I am a believer in the long-term opportunities for the business and I look forward to working with the board and the management team to ensure a seamless handover.”

“I am very proud to have led the company during a period of expansion and change, and to have helped shape its evolution to an omnichannel retailer.

“However, it is healthy and timely after 14 years as CEO to make way for new leadership and fresh perspectives and also for me to explore other entrepreneurial opportunities.”

In October, Perlstein said it’s “too early” to say whether weak trading in the first quarter will carry through to a lacklustre Christmas period after the company slashed its earnings guidance.

SFG advised the market that that it expects first half earnings before interest, tax, amortisation and depreciation (EBITDA) to be between $14 – 17 million, around half that of last year, amid a continuation of the “difficult trading conditions” that led to its $8.39 million loss in FY17.

The company has been struggling with increasing promotional intensity and a subdued consumer environment as late, with gains at City Chic and Rivers in FY17 being offset by declining comparable store sales at its core apparel brands.

Chair of SFG, Anne McDonald said Perlstein had served as CEO during “the most tumultuous period in Australian retailing history.”

“He has led SFG’s growth and response to the changes facing Australian retailers, and has been instrumental in building SFG’s market-leading online sales channels as part of its move to an omnichannel retailer,” commented McDonald.

As part of its succession planning processes, the SFG board has commenced a formal search to identify and appoint a new CEO.

The fashion retailer’s board said it’s focused on “SFG’s strategic priorities including continuous business improvement, and strengthening its market position.”

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