Gerry Weber and Hallhuber retail chief Steinke quits with immediate effect
Just a week after under-pressure womenswear giant Gerry Weber reported falling sales but said its turnaround was on track, the company has parted company with one of its trio of senior executives and has seen its share price falling as a result, with analysts rating its shares as a ‘sell’.
That share price fall is a reflection of the lack of confidence in the brand’s efforts to get its business back into growth mode after Norbert Steinke, its chief retail officer, who at present remains CEO of the firm’s smaller brand Hallhuber, stepped down fromthe board. The company said the 56-year-old resigned with immediate effect for personal reasons and at his own request.
Steinke had also been a management board member since October 2015 after Gerry Weber acquired the Hallhuber business that he had run since 2009. His retail role at the enlarged group saw him running the firm’s stores business, as well as marketing and licensing, while he also retained ultimate responsibility for Hallhuber.
His retail responsibilities will now be shared by the remaining two board members, group CEO Ralf Weber and CFO Dr David Frink, on an interim basis.
The duo have a major challenge ahead of them with sales growth proving elusive and even Hallhuber, which had been a stronger part of the business, starting to see growth slowing down sharply. Its first half sales rose only 1.5% as more retail space was added, but on a comparable basis they fell a hefty 11.6%.
Analysts have been speculating that the comp sales fall at the brand could have been one reason for Steinke’s departure and the firm’s shares fell by 5% at one point on Thursday to hit €10.05, although they closed a little higher than that figure. The shares (and therefore the overall market capitalisation of the company) have lost much of their value over the past five years having been worth over €32 in summer 2012 and reaching almost €40 in 2014.
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