Billabong swaps CEO Derek O’Neill for Target boss as retail conditions worsen

Struggling surfwear retailer Billabong has dumped chief executive Derek O’Neill for former Target chief Launa Inman, as the company moves to implement a new turnaround strategy in the hope of reigniting itself during a disappointing period for retail.

The swap comes as the business has suffered massive setbacks over the past year. In February, the company announced it would cut 150 stores worldwide and 400 staff as it attempts to deal with the poor sales conditions in both Australia and Europe.

Over the past year the company’s shares have fallen 64%, most of that fall occurring late last year after a shocking profit result and a disappointing downgrade.

This morning, they had fallen 1.25% to $2.37.

In a statement, chairman Ted Kunkel said Inman’s skill in retail, including supply chain management and strategic planning, would be crucial to the company’s strategy.

“Launa has proven leadersip capabilities in managing and delivering results in challenging environments and uncertain times,” he said.

“Launa’s appointment recognises the tremendous importance retail has assumed in our business.”

Inman herself has already spent the past two months consulting with Billabong, following her move from Target Australia after seven years. She was also managing director of Officeworks, and remains a board member of the Commonwealth Bank.

“We need to continue to drive our turnaround strategy, moving to a fully integrated operating model powered by the strength of our brands,” she said.

“The first priorities of the turnaround strategy will be to extract greater value from our retail network, and strengthening supply chain management. This will provide the opportunity for Billabong’s family of brands to meet their full potential.”

In February, Billabong received a $841 million takeover bid from US takeover group TGP. It rejected the offer, saying it undervalued the company, instead focusing on its turnaround strategy to close stores and cut staff.


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