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Australia’s oldest department store operator, Myer Holdings, said its chief executive will step down on Wednesday, more than half way through the company’s transformation plan.

Myer said Richard Umbers would leave his roles as chief executive and managing director immediately and that chairman Gary Hounsell had been appointed executive chairman.

“We are impatient for a turnaround in the Company’s performance and the Board has determined that it is in the interests of all shareholders for there to be a fresh approach to drive our future direction,” Mr Hounsell said.

The department store operator launched a five-year turnroad strategy in 2015, but the company last week reported sales fell 3.6 per cent in the first half of the 2018 financial year and said it did not expect any improvement in trading conditions in the second half of the year.

Its largest shareholder, billionaire Simon Lew, who owns a tenth of Myer, last week proposed a meeting to oust the entire board. In November, Mr Lew accused management of running the company into the ground.

The company’s shares fell by more than 50 per cent in 2017 and have continued to decline in 2018, hitting a record low on Tuesday.

Myer shares jumped as much as 5.6 per cent on the news. The benchmark S&P/ASX was off 0.1 per cent.

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