Hallenstein Glasson CEO to step down

GlassonsClothing retailer Hallenstein Glasson’s chief executive Graeme Popplewell will retire at the end of the year.

Popplewell, who started with Hallenstein Brothers as an office junior while completing university, announced his retirement after being with the retailer for 45 years, guiding it through one of the biggest periods of change in the company’s history.

Warren Bell, company chair, said Popplewell, who has served on the board as an executive director since 1985, will remain on the board as a non-executive director to ensure continuity.

Popplewell was appointed managing director of Hallenstein Brothers in 2010 and group chief executive officer in early 2011.

He is credited with driving the reinvention of Hallenstein Brothers and Glassons during his 45-year tenure with the businesses. Since Popplewell joined the original Hallenstein’s board, the company merged with Glassons in 1985 and trebled in size —  growing from 40 stores to over 120 today —  including 30 Glassons stores in Australia. The Storm brand was also launched in 2005 which now has 10 stores.

“The past five years have seen an unprecedented change in retail with the explosion of e-commerce and the globalisation of so many brands,” Popplewell said. “It’s been intense and we’ve had to reinvent the business to successfully meet the changing market.”

“Today we have a world class e-commerce offer that is growing at more than 30 per cent every year and becoming a significant part of the business,” he added.

Popplewell predicts the next five years will see further major technological advances as consumer expectations continue to change.

He said they needed to be equal to any international retailer to be able to compete. “It’s not just about one element – it’s everything – product, marketing, the stores, and finding the right people to lead your brands.”

Bell said Popplewell is leaving the business in a strong position, with current group sales running 11 per cent above the previous year.

“Glassons, in particular, is showing strong results,” he said. “These trends are a reflection of Graeme’s strong stewardship during his time leading Hallenstein Glasson. We’re pleased that his huge knowledge of the business will not be lost following his decision to remain on the board.”

Bell said an international search for a new chief executive is in progress.

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