Hills hopes to get its technology distribution business back on track under the leadership of its new CEO, David Clarke, former CEO of publicly listed health software provider Corum Group.
“I am delighted that we have appointed an executive of David’s calibre, with such a strong record in strategic, financial and operational leadership,” Hills chair Jennifer Hill-Ling said.
“David’s experience and business skills provide Hills with significant capability to deliver on the health division’s growth strategy and return the distribution division to sustained profitability.
“His relationships with government and other business influencers will be invaluable as we focus on generating consistent returns for shareholders,” she added.
The new appointment, effective immediately, sees Clarke work with the outgoing Hills CEO David Lenz to ensure a seamless transition until the latter’s retirement on 1 July 2021.
It was revealed in February that Lenz would retire from his role after almost five years in the top job as CEO and managing director for the publicly listed distributor and health technology provider.
Lenz first joined the company as its COO and then moved into the top role in September 2016. He has racked up more than 20 years’ experience in the IT industry, previously spending seven years with Ingram Micro.
In November last year, it was revealed that the pandemic-prompted reorganisation of Hills’ distribution business in June saw roughly 39 people leave the company.
Lenz revealed the headcount toll of the restructure during the company’s annual general meeting on 6 November 2020, with the reorganisation of the distribution business just one of several steps the company took to minimise the impact of the disruptions caused by COVID-19 on the company.
In April last year, Hills joined a growing legion of companies asking staff to take pay cuts during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the company’s ranks agreeing to cuts of between 10 and 35 per cent.
In August 2020, Hills revealed it expected to end 2020 with a loss of between A$6 million to A$7 million, despite having made a profit in the financial year's first half.
Clarke said he hoped to help generate growth in the new role.
“I’m excited to be taking on this leadership role at Hills," Clarke said. “I look forward to working with the board and the entire Hills team, supporting the success of our customers and suppliers, and generating growth that provides a sustainable return for our shareholders.”
Clarke comes to the role after more than four years at Corum, the final three-and-a-half of them as CEO. Prior to Corum, he was CFO for Australian listed Nick Scali Furniture and, before that, financial director for Medtronic. He has also done time at DCK Australia, Fisher & Paykel Appliances and Lapmaster International.
Clearly, Clarke’s healthcare technology industry experience will position him well to guide Hills’ healthcare business – a largely well-performing business segment for the company – into the future.
As Hills told shareholders: “Clarke brings significant experience as a chief executive officer and chief financial officer of ASX-listed companies, with extensive knowledge across technology and healthcare, as well as distribution and technical field services.”
Clarke has also worked with the Medical Software Industry Association to lead the taskforce coordinating the technical readiness of industry and governments for the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out throughout the primary healthcare network.