Born in the UK, Umbers moved to Australia eight years ago to take up a position as general manager buying and marketing and general manager customer engagement at Woolworths. He is also a former executive of Aldi and Australia Post, and joined Myer last September as chief information and supply chain officer.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald that Myer had to be more constant in putting customers at the centre of its decision-making process.
“What we are doing is taking a blank sheet of paper and looking at the nature of people who shop with us and potential customers who will shop in the future, understanding how they interact with the Myer brand and looking at their lifestyle.”
Following a similar path is Dave Chambers, who is leaving his role as managing director of Progressive Enterprises to join Woolworths as head of its supermarket division in Australia.
He started the job on Monday. His new position sees him in charge of more than 900 stores and 113,000 people.
Chambers has served Progressive since 1979. He told Stuff.co.nz that he started his career as a schoolboy at Glenfield Foodtown and worked his way to the top.
He said it was the competitive aspect of food retail that kept him interested: “I just love it and one of the biggest thrills I get is every day signing into one of our systems at 7am to see what trade we did the prior day.”
In 2002, Chambers was awarded the Nestle Scholarship to attend the Food Executive Programme at Cornell University in the USA, and acted as general manager for Foodtown and Woolworths before becoming general manager of supermarket operations in 2008. He was appointed managing director of Progressive in 2010.
Steve Donohue, Countdown’s general manager merchandise, has been appointed acting managing director, Progressive Enterprises, until a new appointment can be made.
Chambers is a member of Retail NZ’s board. The board has yet to decide whether he will stay on.