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Mike Parsell, former Michael Hill International CEO
Mike Parsell, former Michael Hill International CEO

Michael Hill CEO steps down

The long-standing chief executive officer of Michael Hill International is stepping down one month after overseeing the company’s transfer to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Mike Parsell has held the Michael Hill International (MHI) CEO position for the past 16 years but on 8 August the company revealed he had decided to resign.

“In my 16 years as CEO I have taken the group’s annual revenues from $160m to $540m today,” Parsell said.

“The business has been successfully expanded into international markets and has ample growth opportunities on the horizon with the continued roll out of Michael Hill stores in North America and the growth of our new brand, Emma and Roe.

“I feel now is a good time for a change in leadership as the business is performing well and has a stable and experienced leadership team.”

The news follows the completion of the company's primary stock exchange listing transfer from the New Zealand stock exchange (NZX) to the Australian Securities Exchange on 7 July. The move was said to provide the company direct access to a wider group of investors.

Emma Hill, chair of Michael Hill International and daughter of founder Sir Michael Hill, paid tribute to Parsell, saying he had been “‘an immensely valued member of our team for many years”.

“Mike’s contribution cannot be overstated,” she continued. “When he joined the company in our first store in Whangarei [New Zealand] none of us could have imagined what we would collectively achieve over the next 34 years.

“When Mike joined we had just three stores in New Zealand and we now have more than 300 stores across Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, and are now rolling out the Emma & Roe brand.

Emma Hill, Michael Hill International chair
Emma Hill, Michael Hill International chair

“These are achievements of which Mike can be truly proud.”

International search

Hill confirmed that chief financial officer Phil Taylor had been appointed acting CEO while an international search was carried out for a replacement.

Taylor has been with the company since 1987. He helped with the original listing on the NZX and the establishment of the Australian arm of the business later that year before being appointed CFO in 2003, Hill said.

“The collective management experience of Phil Taylor and the senior leadership team is immense and with all regions of the business currently performing well, now is an opportune time for a change of leadership,” Hill commented, adding she believed MHI’s recent positive financial results would attract “quality candidates”.

Hill told Jeweller that first up for Parsell would be a “well-deserved holiday”. She added the company had not placed a time limit on recruiting a new CEO as the focus was on finding an “exceptional leader” who could help the company achieve its vision of 1,000 stores – as of June there were 297 Michael Hill stores in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.

Financial results

In a July trading update for the 12 months ended 30 June, MHI reported a preliminary overall revenue increase of 8.9 per cent and a 5.4 per cent rise in same store sales, compared with the previous corresponding period.

Same store sales at the Emma & Roe arm of the business increased 34.4 per cent and total store sales went up 91.1 per cent year-on-year.

As of June there were 16 Emma & Roe stores with seven due to open before the end of the year.

Earnings before interest and tax was forecast to be in the range of $46 million to $48 million ahead of the release of the official full-year results on 19 August.

It is not the first time a leading figure has departed MHI around the time financial results have been released.

In August 2015, Sir Hill announced he would step down as chairman, news that came shortly after the company recorded a 3.4 per cent year-on-year increase in revenue.

More reading
Michael Hill restructures for ASX transfer
Michael Hill confirms ASX intentions
New leadership for Michael Hill jewellery

SAMS Group Australia

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