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Finnish Retailer Stockmann Announces Abrupt Departure of CEO in midst of Restructuring

Loss-making Finnish retailer Stockmann announced the surprise departure of its chief executive on Monday, raising questions over the company's ongoing restructuring.
By
  • Reuters

HELSINKI, Finland — Loss-making Finnish retailer Stockmann announced the surprise departure of its chief executive on Monday, after 16 months in the job, raising questions over the company's ongoing restructuring.

Per Thelin, who will leave the company immediately, was recruited in 2014 to revive the department store and fashion chain group after its earnings fell due to a recession in Finland and a weak Russian rouble.

He steered restructuring efforts that included pulling out of the Russian market, divesting one fashion chain and starting to lease out retail space at its department stores.

Stockmann now expects a small profit in 2016 and said on Monday it was set to enter a stage of growth but also said that Thelin and the board of directors had jointly agreed on his departure.

Chief Financial Officer Lauri Veijalainen will act as temporary CEO until Thelin's successor has been found.

Shares in the company were down 1.4 percent by 0917 GMT.

"His departure was unexpected, and it raises a lot of questions," said Niclas Catani, analyst at OP Financial Group.

"Thelin's work was not yet done. He was hired to restructure the company, but I don't see them yet turning a corner."

The move also follows disagreements between the company's biggest owners. A shareholder meeting last month voted down proposals to combine the company's two share series and to authorise the board to decide on share issues.

"In the long run, I see the company moving more into the real-estate business. It's hard to see them turn the department stores into profit," Catani said.

By Tuomas Forsell; editors: Jussi Rosendahl and Susan Fenton.

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