Department store Myer is shaking up its management team before next year's hunt to find a replacement for retiring chief executive Bernie Brookes.
The changes, announced in an internal email, have been sparked by a "review of processes" at Myer, as the retailer seeks to find further cost savings without axing staff.
Myer's general manager of marketing and brand development, Megan Foster, will become managing director of the department store's part-owned fashion label sass & bide. Myer paid $42.3 million for a two-thirds stake in the high-end label in 2011.
Ms Foster's marketing role will be merged with control of digital sales, the "Myer one" loyalty program, events and the "omni-channel" strategy - selling merchandise across bricks and mortar stores, websites and mobile devices - as part of a new executive role.
Myer is interviewing candidates for the position. Whoever gets the job will be a prime contender to succeed Mr Brookes as chief executive when he and the board agree on a timetable for his retirement.
Staff at Myer's head office in Melbourne have been briefed on the changes.
Mr Brookes has been chief executive and managing director of Myer Group since 2006 and has guided the department store through one of the most difficult periods the retail sector has seen.
Myer's sales have grown marginally from $3 billion when it floated in 2009, to just $3.12 billion last financial year. Mr Brookes has improved the bottom line through cost-cutting, store refurbishment and investment in new IT systems.
Myer chairman Paul McClintock has said the global hunt to replace Mr Brookes won't begin until 2014.
Ms Foster had been considered an internal candidate to follow Mr Brookes, but her move to sass & bide may rule her out of contention.
"Megan has long been involved as a director of sass & bide and loves the brand," a source said. "It would be wrong to consider this a demotion, as this is a chance for her to run her own company."
Ms Foster will remain on Myer's management team.
The leading internal candidates to replace Mr Brookes are chief financial officer Mark Ashby and executive general manager of merchandise Adam Stapleton.
In his 10 years at Myer, Mr Stapleton has also been the company's national manager of advertising and general manager of marketing.
"That puts Adam in a pretty good position to follow Bernie, if they look inside," a former Myer executive said. "If you look around the industry, having both marketing and merchandise on your CV holds you in good stead for the top job."
Myer has gone through a string of management shake-ups in recent times. In September, executive general manager of national store operations Nick Abboud resigned after 19 years with the company. He became chief executive of Dick Smith.
In 2011, head of merchandise Penny Winn resigned after reportedly being offered a role that knocked her out of contention to take on the CEO role. She took a senior job at Woolworths.