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Gillam's departure won't de-rail Homebase plans

Bunnings warehouse 2

Wesfarmers CEO Richard Goyder says the surprise ­departure of John Gillam, Bunnings chief, will not de-rail the company's plans to develop the Homebase chain in the UK. Mr Goyder immediately dismissed concerns raised about ­Wesfarmers succession plans, by stating that the company has a deep pool of talent available.

On Wednesday, Wesfarmers made the surprise announcement to the city, that  Mr Gillam, who successfully saw off both the challenge from Masters as well as leading the acquisition of Homebase would be leaving the conglomerate. Mr Gillam, had been at the helm of Bunnings since 2004 and been with ­Wesfarmers for 19 years.

Investors were left puzzled about the ­departure of a highly successful retail executive, viewed by many as the potential successor to Mr Goyder.

Mr Goyder said Wesfarmers remained well placed to handle succession planning, “Wesfarmers is an ­excellent company with exceptional talent,” he told Business Daily in Australia. “We have ongoing succession development planning across the group.”

MD of Bunnings Australia and New Zealand Mike Schneider and Bunnings UK and Ireland head Peter Davis, will now report ­directly to Mr Goyder.

The change comes at a critical time for the Homebase business and just two months before they open their first rebranded Homebase store in the UK. Mr Goyder said investors did not need to worry about the ongoing success of Bunnings as it entered that market.

Read more about the first Bunnings UK store here

Speaking at the Wesfarmers' annual strategy day in June, Mr Gillam said a successful pilot was an "absolute precursor" for any further UK investment. "Curating a range for Bunnings is difficult and if we rush in and make a mistake it will be disastrous," he said. Retail analysts continue to question why Wesfarmers is rebranding the Homebase chain in the UK as Bunnings.

"It has to be done right and they [the pilots] have to work before we do more."

Read here - What could Bunnings do to shake up the UK Home Improvement market? 

Mr Gillam will head the Bunnings UK and Ireland advisory board and will remain deeply involved in the business and would fly to the UK at the weekend, Mr Goyder said. “John is not running away from the business, he will be at least as heavily involved in the UK in the coming year or so as he has been before.”

Mr Gillam, 50, declined interview requests but said in a statement it was the right time for a new generation of leaders to drive Bunnings forward. “I look forward to continuing to support the Bunnings team in an advisory capacity, while also having the opportunity in the coming years to pursue other interests,” he said.

Source: Insight DIY Team

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08 December 2016

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Thank you for the excellent presentation that you gave at Woodbury Park on Thursday morning. It was very interesting and thought-provoking for our Retail members. The feedback has been excellent.

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Martin Elliott. Chief Executive - Home Hardware.
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