Premier Investments requests Myer’s shareholders list

Myer2Solomon Lew’s retail group Premier Investments has asked for Myer’s list of shareholders in a sign it may push for a seat on the board of the struggling department store.

The company said it has made the request in order to consider writing to Myer’s members about any resolutions proposed for Myer’s annual general meeting in November.

Premier Investments bought a 10.77 per cent stake in Myer in March, which has since lost around a third of its value to $64 million due to Myer’s sliding share price slid amid its weak financial performance.

Lew this week accused the department store of losing its way, and misleading investors about how poorly it was performing in 2017.

He has also said Myer’s newly opened clearance floors contain stock of up to three years old that “belongs in the Salvation Army”, and said the company is run mostly by consultants.

Presenting Premier Investments’ financial results on Monday, Lew told analysts: “Whatever happens at Myer, we would like a seat at the table.”

Shares in Myer, which are trading ex-dividend on Wednesday, jumped on the news, adding five cents, or 6.9 per cent, to 77.5 cents.

Conversely, shares in Premier Investments continue to take a battering after it reported a modest annual profit increase, falling to a three-month-low on Wednesday.

Smiggle and Peter Alexander continue to drive revenue growth for Premier Investments, but Morgan Stanley analysts have warned its apparel brands Jacqui E, Portmans, Just Jeans, JayJays and Dotti are dragging on earnings.

While those brands make up a reducing portion of sales – 60 per cent in 2016/17 – the analysts said the risks facing the businesses “hold us back from turning more positive” on Premier Investments.

“The structural challenges are intensifying as international retailers expand into regional Australia and as Amazon sets up direct retailing in the country – apparel is a category that is susceptible to online competition,” the analyst team led by John Stavliotis said in a note.

They do not expect a sharp rebound in sales from those brands because of the challenging consumer environment, and predict a stabilisation, with risks remaining in the medium term.

Premier Investments shares fell almost seven per cent in the two days after the company released its financial results, and dropped a further two per cent, or 25 cents, to $12.58 on Wednesday.

Morgan Stanley analysts warned that Premier’s apparel brands Jacqui E, Portmans, Just Jeans, JayJays and Dotti are dragging on earnings.

While those brands make up a reducing portion of sales – 60 per cent of sales in 2016/17 – the analysts said the risks facing the businesses “hold us back from turning more positive” on Premier.

“The structural challenges are intensifying as international retailers expand into regional Australia and as Amazon sets up direct retailing in the country – apparel is a category that is susceptible to online competition,” the analyst team led by John Stavliotis said in a note.

They do not expect a sharp rebound across those brands because of the challenging consumer environment but rather a stabilisation with risks remaining in the medium term.

CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian said Lew also painted a negative picture for the broader retail sector in delivering the financial results, highlighting high household debt and weak wages growth.

“They released some sluggish figures and have talked down the apparel business in Australia,” Daghlian said.

Shares in Premier Investments enjoyed strong growth between 2012 and 2016, and , rising by close to double digits each year, and fluctuated since.

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