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Mitre 10 taps former Pumpkin Patch head Neil Cowie as new chief executive

Wednesday 31st July 2013

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Mitre 10 (New Zealand), the country's biggest hardware store chain, appointed former Pumpkin Patch head Neil Cowie as its new chief executive.

Cowie, who has also worked for New Zealand discount retailer Warehouse Group and Australian retailers Big W and Michels Patisserie, replaces John Hartmann who returned to the US in April.

Mitre 10, a New Zealand-owned cooperative, is opening larger format Mega stores to compete with rival Bunnings, owned by Australia's Wesfarmers. Mitre 10 expects to expand its network of Mega stores to 44 by the end of 2014, from 35 currently and exceed $1 billion in sales in the 2014 financial year, from $858 million in 2012.

"I look forward to continuing to push Mitre 10 up to and through $1 billion of revenue," Cowie said in a statement. "It's good to be coming into a business at a time when it is doing well and I'll be looking for opportunities to further that revenue growth."

Cowie was at children's clothing retailer Pumpkin Patch for six years including two as CEO. The company's shares have dropped 33 percent this year as it closed underperforming stores and a tough environment led retailers to discount their wares to attract customers.

Mitre 10 boosted first half sales more than 9 percent in the six months ended Dec. 31, with Mega store sales up 14 percent, the cooperative said in a statement on its website. As well as increasing sales from new stores, Mitre 10 boosted revenue from existing stores by 8.2 percent, with Mega same-store sales rising 10 percent.

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