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Pumpkin Patch founder Sally Synnott leaves board

Pumpkin Patch's Sally Synnott leaves board as retailer reviews board to boost sales

By Suze Metherell

July 29 (BusinessDesk) - Pumpkin Patch founder Sally Synnott is retiring from the childrenswear retailer's board to be replaced by Griffin's Foods executive Josette Prince as the business continues a strategic review to revive falling sales and profit.

Prince, who is general manager of sales and marketing at Griffin's, will join the board as an independent director, with Synnott announcing her retirement as a director from the board, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Synnott founded Pumpkin Patch in 1990 and held an executive position until 1993. Synnott owns about 5.6 percent of the company, according to Companies Office filings.

"I advised fellow shareholders when I was elected for my current term that I wanted to step down and find people with fresh skills to navigate the company through the new omni-channel retailing environment," Synnott said. "The company has embarked on a major change process, it will be exciting for Josette and other potential new directors to help steer this."

The company has been looking to revive its performance, appointing Di Humphries as chief executive last August and announcing a strategic review in March including a closer look at its IT infrastructure, in a bid to make its distribution and supply chain management more efficient, and the size of its store footprint in a store-by-store review.

"Josette's appointment is part of a wider review of the board being undertaken to ensure the skills and experiences on the board support the future strategies being implemented," chair Jane Freeman said. "We expect to announce further board changes in the coming months."

In May the company cut its guidance for after-tax earnings before reorganisation costs to a range of $1 million and $3 million for the year ending July 31, having earlier said earnings would be little changed from last year’s $8.5 million.

The children's clothing retailer exited the NZX 50 Index last year and has since been followed by fellow retailers Hallenstein Glasson, the local clothing chain, and Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International this year. Retailers, especially those in the rag trade, are under increased pressure to keep prices cheap as shoppers are lured by bargains from international online retailers. A long summer and unseasonably warm autumn in both New Zealand and across the Tasman have further impacted winter sales in apparel as shoppers haven't rushed to buy warmer clothing.

Shares of Pumpkin Patch fell 1.3 percent to 37.5 cents, having touched a record low of 37 cents earlier this month. The stock has declined 57 percent this year.


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