ONE of Myer's most experienced executives has quit the company, joining an exodus of senior talent that has raised concerns among some institutional investors.
Myer executive general manager of national store operations Nick Abboud - considered by some to be a potential successor to chief executive Bernie Brookes - tendered his resignation yesterday after 19 years with the company.
According to a Myer spokeswoman, Mr Abboud had been in
charge of ''all aspects of Myer's store operations, from conceptualisation to delivery of operational strategies'' whose role included running of all of Myer's department stores.
''Basically, we knew that if Bernie was hit by a truck, Nick was there to step up to the plate,'' said one major investor.
''There are about seven or so who have left over the past year, so the concern is that the ranks are getting a bit thin.''
The departure comes just a week after Myer reported that profits had fallen 14.3 per cent in the year to June as it battled higher costs, weak consumer demand and a shift in the way people shop. Myer, like rival David Jones, has seen sales tumble as more people shop online.
Mr Abboud's departure follows that of Penny Winn, another CEO aspirant, who joined Woolworths just before Christmas. Other recent departures include Deanna Moylan and Wayne Latham, who joined Just Group, and Karl Winther, who is now head of marketing at Officeworks. Former Myer PR boss Mitch Catlin is now with Swisse Vitamins.
Mr Abboud said he had left ''with the blessing of Bernie Brookes'' and would take up a role with a private equity firm. Mr Abboud is expected to be appointed as the new CEO of a major retail chain in coming weeks.
''I have spent 19 years at Myer, and the past six have been the best of them,'' Mr Abboud said.
''I have been part of a team that has done a private equity turnaround, and now I have the chance to go through that process myself as CEO. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and Myer understand that. Bernie is an iconic figure in the retail world, he has been a mentor of mine, and I hope he will continue to be.''
Mr Abboud also took one final shot at long-time rival DJs.
''In very tough conditions, one retailer [David Jones] has reported a 40 per cent profit fall, the other [Myer] just 14 per cent,'' he said.
''I invite anyone to go back and compare the NPAT [net profit after tax] of the two companies over the past four years. You will see Myer has been an amazing turnaround story.''
Myer spokeswoman Jo Lynch said Mr Abboud's resignation was not unexpected. ''He goes with the company's best wishes,'' she said.
Tony Sutton, general manager of store operations, has been appointed to lead the store team on an interim basis.