HP replaces PC chief amid slump

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 June, 2013, 2:13am

Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman is reorganising the personal computer business, replacing long-time head Todd Bradley with one of his deputies as she strives to overcome a worsening global industry slump.

Bradley is becoming executive vice-president for strategic growth, charged with expanding in China and forming alliances with start-ups around the world.

Dion Weisler, hired by Bradley last year from Lenovo to lead personal computers and printing in Asia, is assuming global responsibility for those units.

Whitman is working to turn around HP after seven consecutive quarters of declining sales and years of management tumult and strategic missteps.

While the company overtook Dell to reclaim the top position in personal computers for six years under Bradley, it has been slow to follow users in their shift away from desktop machines to smartphones and tablets.

"Todd went from running half of HP to looking at little companies, which seems like a demotion," said Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI. "Weisler isn't a known entity on the street but is battle-tested and worked at a high level job at Lenovo."

Under former chief executive Leo Apotheker, HP weighed a spin-off of the personal-computer division - a proposal that Whitman scrapped. The company still plans to keep the computer and printing divisions, a spokesman said, adding the job change represented "a lateral move" for Bradley.

Former chief executive Mark Hurd brought Bradley to the company in 2005 from PalmOne to help establish the personal computer business as a separate unit from printing, a decision that was reversed last year by Whitman. She placed Bradley in charge of both businesses after deciding against Apotheker's spin-off proposal as part of a turnaround effort.

Each pivot in the direction of the computing business has made HP's customers uncertain about the brand, exacerbating the effects of the global slump.

"Bradley has made a series of strategic mistakes; his departure should have happened long before," Trip Chowdhry, an analyst at Global Equities Research, wrote in a report.

Among other shortcomings, Bradley had been overly reliant on machines running Microsoft's new Windows 8 software, which had not caught on with consumers, Chowdhry said.

While printers and personal computers generated sales of US$60.1 billion for HP in the past financial year, or half of all revenue, they contributed 60 per cent of sales in the 2005 fiscal year.

Lenovo overtook HP to claim the top spot in the personal computer market last year.

Global computer shipments fell 14 per cent in the first quarter.