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Dick Smith Boss Gets His Mosman Mansion While Suppliers Get Sweet FA

By David Richards | Tuesday | 05/01/2016

Dick Smith CEO Nick Aboud lives in a multimillion dollar house in Mosman, he moved in shortly after the $500M dollar float of the mass retailer in 2013, today Dick Smith owes tens of millions to suppliers and manufacturers after being placed into administration overnight, consumer, also face losing tens of thousands in deposits or payments.

It's was down at Republica, a Balmoral beachside caf? that Aboud who pocketed millions out of the float, and who drives between his Mosman abode and the Dick Smith head office in his late model Porsche met with Anchorage Capital directors to hatch out the $500M float of Dick Smith.

He then met regularly with senior Dick Smith management at his favourite caf? as Aboud desperately tried to prove to the market that he had what it takes to run a mass retailer.

Now after failing dismally Aboud is nowhere in sight.

Nick Aboud CEO of Dick Smith

A survey by ChannelNews earlier today has revealed that distributors who are owed millions are facing the real possibility that they cannot get unsold stock back despite the mass retailer failing to pay for the stock in the first place. 


Four distributors who supply audio and consumer electronics goods to Dick Smith have told CN that they are owed in excess $7.5M dollars.

"Dick Smith has not returned calls for days" one said.

One distributors claims that unless his insurance Company pays out a minimum of $0.65 cents in the dollar he faces the real possibility of going broke. 

What Aboud has delivered is a case study of how not to run a retail business.

He had a lot to prove after failing to get the top job at Myer.
 
When Dick Smith floated with a valuation of $520 million Aboud along with the directors at Anchorage Capital, several who live round the corner from Aboud walked away with millions in their pocket. 

It was only a few months ago that Aboud reported profits of $37.9 million, he bragged that sales were now $1.3 billion and net debt was a tad over $40M.
Despite this there not a lender in sight who wanted to support the mass retailer for the simple reason that the books smelt crook.

Were the sales real, were same store sales accurate and was Dick Smith really entering the appliance market because he saw growth or was it a big ego thing to take it up to JB Hi Fi who have started to get excellent traction in the appliance market.

Not only were the books smelling crook, the brand was not resignating with consumers. They trusted JB Hi Fi, The Good Guys and Harvey Norman but not Dick Smith even when Aboud started spruiking cheap deals prior to Xmas.

Jerry Harvey said the deals were "crook" and consumers believed. Him.

Then there were the dodgy house brand deals that delivered nothing but grief for the mass retailer who was desperate to generate cash flow at any cost.
Dick Smith was a dodgy private equity deal that has gone bad, now questions are being asked of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission as to how a private equity firm Anchorage Capital could get away with what has already been described as a "massive heist"

The Australian said earlier today 'Only five months ago chief executive Nick Abboud was boasting that Dick Smith (DSH) was the fastest-growing consumer electronics retailer in the country, with the largest number of stores. That may, of course, be a significant part of the problem'
Anchorage appeared to have managed an extraordinarily quick turnaround, and an embarrassing one for Woolworths.

With hindsight, it stripped the group of cash by writing down its inventories brutally at the outset, turning them into cash and, with other write downs of assets that deflated depreciation charges, inflating future profitability.

With hindsight, it was the market's focus on profitability rather than Dick Smith's balance sheet and the way it had been reshaped that created the seeds of the group's destruction. That was why the market was prepared to pay $520 million for the business.

It was the market, not Anchorage, which was at fault for not properly analysing and appreciating the implications of the way the business had been restructured ahead of the IPO. The sense of being ripped off, however, will make the market very distrustful of anything Anchorage might try to float in future said Stephen Bartholomeusz in the Australian. 

In today's announcement of the appointment of McGrathNicol as voluntary administrators, the Dick Smith board said sales and cash generation in December were below management expectations.

They had explored alternative funding but formed the view that any success wouldn't have been sufficiently timely to support short-term funding requirements and to allow the company to order required inventory during the next four to six weeks.

They intended to work with the administrators to explore all options to allow Dick Smith to continue as a going concern.

If the business is to survive and emerge from administration it is quite obviously going to need a big injection of capital, new ownership and management and a very different offer. 
It will also need new and different stock and a more disciplined and focused retail offer and strategy than it had been pursuing.

I doubt that there is a future for Dick Smith, in fact I doubt whether there ever was a future for Dick Smith. 

Australia only has 23 million populations and the market is adequately served by the likes of Harvey Norman, JB Hi Fi, Officeworks, The Good Guys and several small mass retailers such as Bing Lee.

Among these vendors alone competition is rife, especially as Big W, Aldi Costco and several other retailers sell the same stock that Dick Smith sold. 
Both manufacturers and distributors were spending significant amounts of money servicing Dick Smith who was well known for hitting vendors up for marketing dollars.

Millions went in but little came out.

What the industry needs to do now is consolidate behind the remaining retailers, as the fallout from Dick Smith could impact these retailers as millions of dollars' worth of stock are washed through the channel by receivers acting for banks who are desperate to get their hands on at least some of the $138M they loaned to Dick Smith. 

Dick Smith proved too difficult for Woolworths to turn around and the apparent, but fleeting, success under Anchorage's ownership was built on flawed foundations and, given that those foundations had been hollowed out before its IPO, misconceived ambitions in the relatively brief period post-listing implosion of Dick Smith will inevitably provide a case study of how not to run a retail business.

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