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Monday, March 13, 2006

Will someone please buy Myer...#2

They have done it. At last, it has happened. The ink is still wet and it will take a while before the old lot go and the new lot come but, dear reader, someone has at last bought Myer. Dear reader, you know how Miss Eagle pleaded for this. Newbridge Capital, with the support of the Myer family, has bought Myer. Bill Wavish, ex-Woolworths, is to replace Dawn Robertson as head honcho. Now, this is a bit of a worry. On the face of it, it seems he is there for his financial skills within the retail sector but will the man from Woolworths (and remember the close links Woolworths executives have with Wal-Mart in the USA) keep Myer downmarket or send it even further down? But there may be other ideas when one considers the following statement
``We want to push into private brands, work with Australian designers to develop lines exclusively for Myer similar to what we have done with Debenhams,'' said Dan Carroll, co-managing partner at
Newbridge. ``The retail market in Australia is pretty mature and the most profitable place to focus on is the upscale, urban consumer.''

This question dovetails with the other query. What plans does Newbridge have for Myer? Newbridge has a distinct Asian focus. The portfolio published on their website does not list any retailers. Although one of the parent companies of Newbridge, the US-based Texas Pacific Group, is currently one of the biggest investors in department stores in the world, having jointly acquired the US retailer Neiman Marcus in May 2005, and also the United Kingdom retailer Debenhams in 2003.

So is Myer going to be a bridge for Newbridge into Asian retailing? This would make a lot of sense, it fits with Newbridge philosophy, and will utilize its growing expertise across Asia. Is this why the Myer family wants to be in? But what will Myer look like in the future in Australia - or if it goes to market in Asia? What will be the Myer ethos? Will Australians still be able to call it my store - or will only the name remain the same to protect a globalized company?