Friday 1 April 2016

Editorial: New CEO Meets Traders Brief

It should not be lost on QVM traders that Malcolm McCullough appears to meet their selection criteria for a CEO very well.

It is now nearly 4 years ago that Trader Representatives sat with Chairman Paul Guerra in the close confines of the 67 Victoria St. Training Room and asked for some key innovations in the running of QVM. These included a trader on the Board, Board representation at QVMAC meetings and an upgrade to the retail experience of Board members and senior management. 

That request for retail experience was carried through to a subsequent meeting with Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who famously said "You don't need to be a brain surgeon to be on the Board of the Royal Melbourne Hospital" (he was on the Board of the hospital at the time). It is true that a Board requires a variety of competent people with a variety of expertise to do its job but traders were concerned at the lack of core retail experience at QVM. This was intended as no disrespect to the likes of Board member George Christopoulos, nor indeed to the subsequent appointment of Jan Cochrane-Harry who performed an exemplary role as CEO.

QVM is more than just a retail organisation. It is clear that there is property expertise needed in its running just like we see at organisations like Westfield. QVM is a property company that provides the operating environment for a very significant retail entity. The retail revolution has placed renewed emphasis on the retail aspect which is why Malcolm McCullough's appointment is so significant.

Mr. McCullough has some interesting experience. He was State General Manager - Victoria, for K-Mart at a time when it was being transformed from an ailing discounter to its current powerhouse status. He has experience with Coles Liquor, Bunnings, Starbucks, the Disney Store, and more recently as General Manager of the Murray Goulburn Cooperative, Australia's largest processor of milk products and owner of the Devondale brand. Operating in a cooperative of independent dairy farmers has interesting parallels with operating in a market of independent traders.

His most recent role has been as Executive General Manager at Credo, who describe themselves as "Leading and working with diverse teams of retailers and professionals by executing outcomes and enabling change in a variety of competitive retail industries, multiple markets, and fast-paced environments" with a focus on "Retail Store Operations, Store Format Development , Project Management, Shop Fit out, Logistics Planning and Management, Strategy Development, Merchandising range , assortment and planning." The "fast-paced environment" part certainly seems appropriate for QVM.

The time is right for retail leadership as we transform QVM Into a more relevant 21st Century retail market. The list of trader requests remains unsatisfied (it probably always will) but Malcolm McCullough's appointment is an important step in setting a more positive path for QVM's retail future. The Board and traders appear united in that aim.

by Greg Smith