PETS AT HOME has asked its incoming chief financial officer Graeme Jenkins to do just that and stay at home himself after the retailer revealed he would not take up the post “by mutual agreement”.
The rebuff was made after it emerged that Jenkins’ former employer’s parent company, Wesfarmers, had admitted accounting irregularities at its wholly-owned subsidiary Target Australia where Jenkins was CFO.
The appointment was due to take place in early April after former CFO Ian Kellett was appointed as group chief executive officer, with Jenkins due to succeed him in his previous role.
Following an investigation into Target’s accounting, the Australian retailer unearthed issues with its first-half profits which had been ramped up by a fifth (20.7%) through a system of supplier rebate arrangements with foreign suppliers.
The scandal has now claimed the scalp of Target boss Stuart Machin. who resigned before the full revelations of the probe are published.
Having only recently bought out the UK’s national DIY chain Homebase, Wesfarmers said it had taken “appropriate action” against three other senior Target executives “directly” involved in the issue, in addition to Machin.
Machin was widely tipped to take up a senior management role at Wesfarmers.
Richard Goyder, Wesfarmers managing director, told the Financial Times that there was no excuse for what happened, adding “we’ve taken this very, very seriously because, while the amount is not material, the actions and the reputational damage are”.
“What’s so disappointing about this is that people have made a decision, probably through an implied pressure that they felt, to do something that’s mind-blowingly stupid.”
The full findings of the probe into Target’s accounting are expected next week.
The paper states that Machin “already has some insight into the outcome of the investigation, which has been conducted by Wesfarmers and its auditors EY”.
It also says the company’s management is “understood to have been aware of issues relating to Target’s accounting as far back at December last year”.
The latest development follows its highly unusual announcement to the London Stock Exchange on 1 April, when it declared: “It is the board’s intention that Graeme’s joining date will only be finalised once the investigation is concluded or further information becomes available.”
Pets at Home has now begun a renewed search for a new chief financial officer and, as on interim basis, has appointed Mark Adams, who has previously held high-ranking finance positions at easyJet and Hastings Insurance. He was also group finance director and then CEO at Helphire Group, and CFO at Alpha Airports Group and STA Travel Group.
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