The news did not come as a surprise to the company. Powell, who is 53, indicated to the board last year he didn’t foresee himself in the role beyond February 2016.
Powell says when he first took on the role of CEO, he saw himself doing it for the four to five years required to build The Warehouse Group’s strategic platforms and culture.
“The last four years have been personally very fulfilling. The group is now very different,” he says.
“Customers and the team have seen the positive difference. The challenge in the next strategic cycle is to fully translate this platform into profitable growth for our shareholders in the future. I know we have the team in place to do this.”
Powell first started at the company in 2002 and worked in various full-time, part-time and advisory roles.
These included interim CEO of the Australian operations, group general manager of supply chain and merchandise planning and CEO of Warehouse Stationery.
He was promoted to CEO of The Warehouse Group in 2011.
The Warehouse Group founder Sir Stephen Tindall says Powell has made an incredible contribution to the company.
“His goal was to drive this phase of the strategic journey by starting with the customer and putting a real focus on people, culture and a clear way of working,” Tindall says.
“This has provided the strategic path and investment required to transition the business from ‘red and blue’ into a broader group encompassing new businesses, including financial services.”
Some of the achievements the group attributes to Powell’s leadership include making retail an attractive career prospect.
This has been done through its retail learning pathway, the career retailer wage and the business management degree at Massey University.
Dr Jonathan Elms, Massey University's appointee to the Sir Stephen Tindall's chair in retail management and Mark Powell
There’s also The Warehouse Group’s acquisition of Noel Leeming and Torpedo 7, as well as refreshing its Red Sheds through a $100 million programme to improve product quality and service.
Significant changes have been made to the group’s online and digital retailing, such as its click and collect option at The Warehouse stores.
Powell says he is looking to apply his knowledge, skills and experience to an area he’s passionate about.
He says the areas of passion are in the faith based not-for-profit sector and as a professional company director.
Originally from South Wales, Powell’s education includes a Bachelors in Mining Engineering from the University of Wales, a Bachelor of Theology from Carey Baptist College, a Master’s degree in Logistics from Cranfield University and Master of Business Administration degree completed with distinction from Cardiff Business School.
He is currently in the process of completing a Masters in Philosophy and Theology.
A formal process has begun to recruit a new group CEO, which could take up to 10 months.
There has been no word from The Warehouse Group about any potential contenders for the role.
Powell told The Register this month that he hoped the group would one day be steered by a CEO who had joined the group’s Red Shirts in Schools programme at secondary school level.