Wesfarmers appoints Archie Norman to Homebase management

Former Asda chief executive Archie Norman and B&Q Asia chief executive Matt Tyson are to help Wesfarmers transform Homebase, a strategy meeting in Australia has heard.

Bunnings chief executive officer John Gillam announced a three-man advisory team to guide UK growth, headed by Wesfarmers deputy chair Archie Norman, a former Conservative MP, who in November 2007 advised Wesfarmers on the acquisition of Coles Group and has since overseen the turnaround of Coles in Australia.

Norman will be joined by former McKinsey partner and Lazard adviser Michael Mire and former B&Q managing director operations and Asia chief executive Matt Tyson. Lazard advised Wesfarmers when the Australian conglomerate bought Homebase for £340m this year.

Gillam said: "We’ve drafted in a lot of powerful people to help us get things right."

On Tyson, Gillam said: "He knows Bunnings well. He is also a very well-credentialed UK retailer. It’s terrific to have him."

Tyson has been working in Australia for Woolworth's Home Improvement on its unsuccessful Masters DIY purchase. Gillam said: "Matt knows us very well because he’s been here competing against us. So he understands what Bunnings is. Maybe he understands things that we don’t understand about ourselves, strengths we don’t understand or weaknesses we’re not aware of."

Gillam said Mire is "a really strong thinker and brings some real discipline".

Gillam said on the Homebase purchase: "Four months post completion, the acquisition thinking [has been] validated. [We] confirm the financial guidance provided at acquisition announcement."

The Australian reports that Wesfarmers plans an investment of $1 billion in Homebase and a return on capital of 18 per cent within five years.

Gillam added the $1bn turnaround of Homebase was now "underway" after a "decade of poor management". Gillam said there would be a Homebase trial for its Bunnings Warehouse proposition in pilot stores due for later in 2016.

"Successful pilots are an absolute precursor to further investment," he said.

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