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Hallenstein delays moving buying hub to Melbourne

Tuesday 18th November 2008

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Hallenstein Glasson Holdings, the clothing chain operator that lost its chief executive in September, delayed plans to move its buying team to Melbourne from Christchurch citing "very difficult" retail conditions.

The apparel retailer will instead establish a buying centre in Auckland, managed by its Melbourne-based general manager for merchandise, Tali Kalb, it said in a statement. Kalb was previously in charge of buying at the Jeanswest chain.

"We have had to reconsider whether the planned timing and extent of the Melbourne move were right for the business given the significant change in the retail environment in the interim," said acting chief executive Roy Dillon.

Former chief executive Shayne Quanchi resigned two months ago, after less than a year in the job, citing unwillingness to commute between New Zealand and Australia, where Hallenstein sees its best prospects for expansion. It already has 26 of its Glasson women's clothing chain opened or planned in Australia.

The retailer forecast a grim outlook in a market update earlier this month, saying first half profit will be "considerably below" year-earlier earnings of $9.2 million.

Sales in the first quarter fell 6.7%, led by a drop in New Zealand revenue, while in Australia, sales rose 1%.

Shares of Hallenstein were unchanged at $2.30 today and have fallen more than 40% this year amid a prolonged economic contraction in New Zealand and weakening growth in Australia.

By Jonathan Underhill

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