181216 Benoit Lamonerie
Benoit Lamonerie Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The CEO of retail and dining operator Marka has resigned, according to a company statement on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) website.

Marka, which became Dubai’s first publicly traded retailer in 2014, has seen its share price drop by 90 per cent since the beginning of this year.

Benoit Lamonerie, the outgoing chief executive, resigned last Thursday, the statement said.

“[Lamonerie] has resigned from his position as Group CEO for personal reasons and is no longer working for Marka.”

Until a replacement was appointed, the statement added, management of the company would continue under the supervision of the board of directors.

The company spent five months last year without a top executive at the helm, ending its search in May 2017 when it appointed Lamonerie.

He replaced Nick Peel, who resigned on December 21, 2016.

In a statement on the bourse at the time of Lamonerie’s hiring, Marka said that the businessman had over 20 years’ experience managing “major projects in the retail, hospitality, entertainment and real estate sectors, both locally in listed companies, and internationally.”

Marka has posted consecutive quarterly losses since it went public in 2014, most recently announcing it would reduce its capital from Dh500 million to Dh49.87 million in an attempt to extinguish Dh450 million of accumulated losses.

In July, the company said that trading of its shares would be suspended until at least September 4. As of December 16, trading remains suspended.

The company’s auditory, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), expressed concern in Marka’s quarterly financial statement earlier this year over the retailer operator’s inability to continue to operate in light of the fact that its liabilities exceed its current assets.

Marka has also defaulted on certain bank borrowings, the auditor said.

“These events or conditions, along with other matters... indicate that a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on [Marka’s] ability to continue as a going concern,” their statement added.

Since floating in 2014, Marka has expanded aggressively against a backdrop of weakening consumer segment, exacerbated by a low oil price environment, and a drop in tourist spending.

Last year, the company embarked on a major cost-cutting programme, with a reduction of 75 per cent of its general expenses between the second and third quarters of 2017.