ThinkSmart Appoints New CEO

ThinkSmart Appoints New CEO

ThinkSmart names Keith Jones as new CEO, confirms previous guidance for 2013 earnings and announces dividend to be reinstated in 2014

  • Keith Jones appointed CEO2
  • 013 NPAT expected in the region of $2.0m, in line with previous guidance
  • Earnings growth set to continue through 2014
  • 2013 volumes tracking below earlier guidance
  • Dividend expected to be declared in 2014

ThinkSmart Limited announced Keith Jones has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, effective February 2014. Current CEO and founder, Ned Montarello, will remain Executive Chairman.

ThinkSmart also confirmed that 2013 earnings are expected to be in line with earlier guidance and reaffirmed profit growth is expected to continue in each six month period through 2014. Fully franked dividend payments are expected to recommence during 2014.

“Profit growth has good momentum,” said Mr Montarello. “We are on track to comfortably achieve our profit guidance for the 2013 year and the Australian business is now expected to report its first profit in a six month reporting period for two years – and this is ahead of schedule. Cash balances are also building steadily and the Group is well positioned for a strong 2014 year. As an indicator of the Board’s confidence in the direction in which the business is heading, the Board is pleased to announce that ThinkSmart expects to reinstate dividends in 2014.”

Mr Montarello said that second-half earnings will include a significant improvement from the Australian business division, due to improving credit performance and greater operational efficiencies.

For the six months to 31 December 2013, ThinkSmart is expected to report Net Profit after Tax in the region of $1.3 million, up by more than $1.2 million on the previous corresponding period. Group NPAT for 2013 is expected to be in the region of $2.0 million.

Mr Montarello, who flagged the Executive and Board changes in May this year, said the deep retail experience and customer focus of Mr Jones made him ideally suited to lead the Company through its next growth phase.

Mr Jones has over thirty years experience in the retail sector in Europe. He was employed by Dixons Retail plc, ThinkSmart’s largest retail partner, for over 15 years with roles including Group Retail Director and PC World Stores Group Managing Director. He has also previously held senior positions at Kingfisher plc and was CEO of JJB Sports plc. Mr Jones has been a Director of ThinkSmart Limited since May and has been well known by the Board for several years.

ThinkSmart recently announced it had entered into a new trading agreement with a division of Kingfisher, Europe’s largest home improvement retail group. ThinkSmart has also had a long-standing relationship with Dixons, the UK’s largest electrical retailer.

“I look forward to building on the improving performance of ThinkSmart and I am committed to the development and implementation of strategies and partnerships to further grow the business,” said Mr Jones.

Mr Montarello also pointed to a slow build in new business volumes during the second half of 2013. In the UK, sales are expected to be broadly flat on 2012.

In Australia, Fido, the Group’s new payment plan product, is expected to generate new sales in the range of $12 million to $14 million in its first full year of operation. New retailer distribution signings remain on track and these continue to position Fido as a key part of the growth expected from ThinkSmart’s Australian business in 2014. While rental volumes continue to be soft, new online rental relationships are showing good progress.

“We have been able to make excellent progress in broadening product distribution with a view to 2014 and beyond, especially with the new partnership with Kingfisher in the UK, the launch of new rental products in Australia and the continued addition of Fido retailers in Australia,” Mr Montarello said.

ThinkSmart also announced that Alistair Stevens has resigned as CFO but will remain in his current role until the end of the year. An executive search is underway for his replacement. Mr Montarello said he thanked Mr Stevens for his significant contribution and wished him well for the future.

Biography of Keith Jones: Keith Jones has over 30 years of retail experience in Europe including roles as Chief Executive Officer of JJB Sports plc and Group Retail Director of Dixons Retail plc. At Dixons, Keith was a member of the Group Executive Committee with direct responsibility for all UK and Ireland fascias including PC World and Currys. Previously he was Managing Director of PC World Stores Group with responsibility for stores in the UK, Spain, France, Italy and Nordics in addition to Group Service Operations. Keith has an MBA from Manchester Business School.

Summary of key terms of new CEO and Executive Chairman Employment Agreements
Role Chief Executive Officer of the ThinkSmart Group, reporting to the Board.
Term Commencing on 1 February 2014, subject to the termination rights below.
  1. Salary: Base salary of $500,000 per annum (exclusive of superannuation), subject to annual review.
  2. Short term incentive: Annual cash bonus of up to 80% of base salary as determined by the Board in its absolute discretion and subject to the achievement of performance targets set by the Board.
  3. Long term incentive: 1,000,000 shares to be issued pursuant to the ThinkSmart Long Term Incentive Plan (“LTIP”) upon signing. A further 1,000,000 shares to be issued pursuant to the ThinkSmart LTIP in 2014. Thereafter and commencing 2015, the Executive will be eligible to be granted 1,000,000 shares to be issued pursuant to the ThinkSmart LTIP annually. All grants of shares are subject to receipt of the necessary shareholder approvals.
Termination rights ThinkSmart may terminate Mr Jones’ employment before the commencement date by payment of 6 months’ salary. Following the commencement date, either party may terminate Mr Jones’ employment on 6 months’ notice.

ThinkSmart may elect to pay out the notice period. In addition, ThinkSmart may terminate Mr Jones’ employment without notice for certain events, including serious misconduct, illness or injury and material breach of the employment agreement.

Other Other general provisions such as confidentiality and non-compete undertakings.
ThinkSmart also confirms that it has entered into a revised employment agreement with Ned Montarello for his new role.Under the revised arrangements, Mr Montarello will receive a salary of $300,000 per annum (exclusive of superannuation) and will continue to participate in ThinkSmart’s LTIP, subject to the Board’s discretion and receipt of the necessary shareholder approvals. Mr Montarello will also be subject to confidentiality and non-compete undertakings.


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