In the wake of the surprise announcement of Paul Zahra's intended departure as chief executive of David Jones, the company's board has been urged by shareholders to look for a “star” replacement overseas rather than choose from internal candidates, according to The Australian Financial Review.
“An overseas retail executive would be more experienced competing with online giants like Amazon — Australian retailers have been shielded from that for a while and then they got knocked over in the rush,” Tyndall Australian fund manager Craig Young said, according to the AFR.
Allan Gray managing director Simon Marais said David Jones should look for a “born merchant” rather than a bureaucratic-style leader.
“Australia is an attractive place to live so you may find someone who is second in charge at [an international retailer such as] Neiman Marcus,” he told the AFR.
“A Nordstrom executive would have seen what David Jones is going through now, 10 years ago.”
Mr Zahra's announced departure has sparked much speculation about potential replacements.
Zahra to stay on until replacement found
Mr Zahra said that despite the toll the company's challenges have taken on him, he can stay on until David Jones finds a suitable replacement.
“Of course those things take their toll, I would be lying to say otherwise,” Mr Zahra told The Australian.
“It is much easier to be a retailer, particularly at a public company, if sales are going well, and they clearly weren't.
“We have suffered as well as many other retailers have.”
But he said he will remain focused until his departure.
“I am here, I am focused, I am not leaving yet and I don't plan to leave until the right person is selected by the board, so that I can do a proper hand-over,” he told the newspaper.