Hellaby is an Auckland-based publicly listed investment holding company which owns 15 different industrial, distribution and retail businesses. These include oil and gas services, automotive distributors, heavy equipment companies, and packaging solutions, plus a large footwear division.
As the owner of Hannahs, Hush Puppies, Pulp and Number One Shoes, Hellaby is New Zealand’s largest footwear retail group. It operates 115 stores in New Zealand and has a small retail presence in Australia. In the first half of 2015, Hellaby’s footwear division contributed $68.5 million out of the company’s overall revenue of $386.9, and sells more than five million pairs of shoes per year.
Williamson was appointed to his current role in July 2007. His career has included leadership roles with lingerie group Bendon, building materials group Fletcher Building and roading materials supplier Humes Group.
The National Business Review has reported Williamson led Hellaby on an “acquisition spree” last year as it sought to diversify its investments. Over the last two years, it has bought a truck servicing business, an auto electrical, fuel and engine management components firm and 85 percent of Contract Resources, a specialised engineering maintenance and industrial cleaning company.
In an announcement released by Hellaby on Friday, Williamson said he was leaving to seek new business challenges and opportunities.
“Since I started in 2007, the company has undergone a significant turnaround and we’ve put in place a strong growth strategy. In the past five years our profits have more than doubled, and in our two most recent profit announcements we posted record operating earnings. I have recently started to consider what the next challenge might be for me personally, and I believe now is a good time for a managed handover to a new leader.”
Hellaby chairman Steve Smith says the board is fully committed to Hellaby’s growth strategy, and the search for a new chief executive will begin immediately. He says the company has an excellent management team and capable divisional leaders who will continue to drive the company during the transition.
“John will be leaving the company in very good shape,” he says. “It has a clear strategic framework with robust investment criteria and processes. Hellaby is now a different company to the one John inherited, and that good work will continue.”
Smith says Hellaby will continue to actively pursue growth opportunities, and flagged the announcement of some new initiatives in the coming months.
Hellaby’s share price dipped following the announcement from $3.27 to as low as $3.18 on Friday. Shares are now at $3.19.