WPP AUNZ owned Active Display Group dumps CEO in company restructure

Active Display Group, the point-of-sale display company fully owned by WPP AUNZ, has dumped its CEO as part of its bid to ‘transform’ the struggling business as it deals with a declining market which has seen retailers including Myer and Revlon cut back on in-store marketing spend.

Chairman of the company, David Gittus told staff in an email yesterday he would be stepping in to replace former CEO Deane Hubball while the company looked for a replacement.

Former Active Display Group CEO, Deane Hubball

“Some of our largest customers are restricting their spending on services like ours as they attempt to improve or simply maintain their profits – while their sales are flat or declining,” Gittus wrote.

“We have seen the impact of these actions through reduced orders from large customers like Myer & Revlon throughout 2018 already – customers who we could traditionally have relied on to spend the same amount with us year on year.

“It has become increasingly clear to our owners WPP AUNZ and to the Active Display Group Board of Directors that we need to significantly and more quickly ‘transform’ the Active business into one that can get back to its former levels of profitability in this new commercial environment – because it’s here to stay.”

Gittus said Hubball, who was appointed in January last year, had not been able to address the $80m a year company’s challenges in the current commercial environment.

“Despite Deane’s best efforts during his 18 months in the Active CEO role, the business has not kept pace with the rate of change in the market and Active’s profit, which is the ultimate measure of performance (certainly in the eyes of our owners WPP AUNZ), has fallen significantly and needs to be urgently improved.

“WPP AUNZ and the Active Board were not confident that Deane had the strategies and plans in place needed to transform the business, and not within the timeframe that it is needed.”

Along with Hubball, a number of sales and production staff in NSW, Victoria and Queensland have been made redundant in the restructure while the company is consolidating its warehouse and production facilities in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

Gittus was at pains in his memo to emphasise the company, which was acquired by the then STW Group in 2014, still had the support of WPP AUNZ, writing: “A very key point that all employees need to understand is that we have the ongoing support of our owners, WPP AUNZ.

“They are a $1 billion publicly listed group and have the resource to support Active through the important changes we need to make over the coming months. As outlined above, the WPP AUNZ board has approved the investment needed to consolidate our Melbourne sites – clear evidence of their commitment to supporting us through a period of transformation.

“Like the Executive Leadership Team and myself, WPP AUNZ’s goal is to help transform Active into a more competitive and sustainable business that can thrive in this challenging new environment – but we will need your help in accepting the need for change and assisting us to make it a reality.”

A spokesperson for WPP AUNZ confirmed to Mumbrella that Active Display Group’s CEO, Deane Hubball had left the business, saying: “While a search for a new CEO is underway, Executive Chairman, David Gittus will step into the role as interim CEO. Gittus was a Director & CEO of Active Display Group for over 25 years and has remained closely involved with the business in his role as Executive Chairman.

“An announcement about a new CEO will be made in due course.”

The company is running a series of staff Q&A sessions to discuss the restructure in Sydney and Melbourne over the next week.


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