ASX company boss finally exits after 98% wiped off share price

Everyone has used or swung from this company’s iconic product, but its shareholders have had a miserable time the past 16 years.

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Washing on a Hills Hoist

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After a calamitous 16-year reign, the chair of iconic Australian brand Hills Ltd (ASX: HIL) has announced her retirement.

Jennifer Hill-Ling, whose family founded the company in 1948, stepped down as chair immediately on Thursday and will leave the board altogether “later in the year”.

Former chief of Pro Medicus Limited (ASX: PME), David Chambers, will take over in leading the board. He’s also the current chair of Mach7 Technologies Ltd (ASX: M7T).

Hill-Ling’s great uncle Lance Hill invented the famous Hills Hoist rotary clothesline in 1945. Her grandfather Harold Ling joined his brother-in-law to start mass manufacturing the product that would become a staple of Australian backyards.

Both co-founders had stints as chair, before Hill-Ling’s father Robert Hill-Ling took over. Jennifer took the reins in late 2005.

Unfortunately, her tenure has not been successful for shareholders, as a series of business decisions took the Hills share price from a high of $6.72 in August 2007 to just 14 cents after market close on Thursday.

That’s a painful 98% loss.

Hills doesn’t make clothes lines anymore

The Adelaide company sold off the rights to the clothes hoists a few years ago and is now involved in sectors that are far removed from its original product.

“It has been a great privilege and honour to serve as a director of Hills and, for the past 16 years, as its chairman,” said Hill-Ling.

“During this time, Hills has established a leading healthcare business providing nurse call and patient engagement solutions that is well positioned to expand further within the health technology sector.”

On behalf of her family, she endorsed the new chair Chambers, his board and their plans for the business.

“I am confident that Hills is well-placed to continue to grow its businesses,” she said.

“They have and will continue to have the support of the Hill-Ling family as they implement the company’s growth initiatives.”

The Hills share price has lifted 3.57% this morning and is trading at 14.5 cents at the time of writing.

Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and has recommended MACH7 FPO and Pro Medicus Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Pro Medicus Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended MACH7 FPO. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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