Former McDonald’s executive to lead Kmart

Wesfarmers has appointed former McDonald’s Australia boss Guy Russo to head up its struggling general merchandise retailing business Kmart.

Wesfarmers has appointed former McDonald’s Australia boss Guy Russo to head up its struggling general merchandise retailing business Kmart.

Wesfarmers, which took control of Kmart after aquiring Coles Group in late 2007 for $18.2 billion, will be hoping Russo can turn Kmart’s fortunes around.

The company’s same-store sales went backwards during the June period, and while it generated earnings before interest and tax of $114 million between late November 2007 and June 2008, $101 million of that came in the five weeks before last Christmas.

Russo is the former head of McDonald’s operations in China and Australia. Since leaving the Golden Arches in 2007, he has worked as an industry consultant.

Russo is aware of the size of his challenge, but plans to throw himself into the job by visiting all of Kmart’s 182 outlets in his first two months on the job.

“I know there is a huge opportunity, even when there is a lack of confidence in the market,” Russo told The Australian Financial Review.

Mark Goddard, who had been acting managing director of Kmart since April, will continue with the business in the role of director of merchandising and marketing.

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