Temple & Webster Board Shake-Up

By Sam Gopal | 16 Mar 2016

In an effort to claw back its profitability and revive its place in the stock market, online furniture retailer Temple & Webster is making changes to its board management.

Following news late last month of a disappointing first-half performance and profit warning, which sent shares sliding 70 percent since listing on the share market last December, online furniture retailer has taken measures to restructure its board management to put the retailer in a stronger position to capitalise on growth moving froward.

The company has appointed former Fantastic Holdings Chief Executive Stephen Heath as a non-executive director and adviser to senior management. Heath, who left the bricks-and-mortar furniture retailer after four years last month after a dispute over bonuses, is a former Harvey Norman franchisee with previous experience at both Godfreys and Rebel Group.

Mark Coulter, an original co-founder of Temple & Webster, has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer and will take responsibility for day-to-day operations. Chairwoman Carol Schwartz told the Sydney Morning Herald Coulter knew Temple & Webster well and would focus on making the business EBITDA positive “in a measured and timely fashion.”

Following the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Deborah Kelly, just six months after assuming the role, Chief Executive and Co-Founder Brian Shanahan will assume financial responsibilities until a permanent replacement can be found.

The furniture retailer posted an $8.5 million EBITDA loss forecast, which could be as much as $5.5 million deeper. Net losses increased to $17.7 million, from just $3 million one year earlier. Following the warning, Temple & Webster’s shares more than halved, dropping $45 million in market value.

News of the board restructure has helped lift Temple & Webster’s shares 2.5 cents, or 10.6 percent, to 26 cents in a lower Australian market. While the stock is trading well below its IPO price of $1.10 a share, Shanahan told the Herald Sun the changes give him “even more confidence in bringing forward our breakeven point, while still delivering a high growth company.”

The homewares retailer acquired one of Australia’s largest e-tailers late last year with the purchase of Milan Direct in a $20 million deal, a deal that came off the back of its acquisition of the Australian arm of Wayfair and subsequent rebranding to ZIZO.

In addition to cost-cutting measures, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the company is attempting to accelerate sales growth by launching a permanent Temple & Webster online store, as well as opening the first Milan Direct bricks-and-mortar showroom, and widening its customer base to include trades and professionals.

With the company failing to attract new customers, Shanahan says the focus now is to fine tune its marketing spend, customer acquisition channels and product mix during the second half to improve its new customer and sales performance.

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