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DJ's chairman Savage says he wasn't pushed


David Jones chairman Bob Savage insists his shock resignation was his decision and he was not pushed.

Mr Savage announced his departure plan late on Thursday, with most of the retailer's shareholders only learning about the news when they attended David Jones' annual general meeting on Friday.

"Absolutely," he said when asked by reporters after the meeting if his departure announcement was his decision alone, rather than having been made by others on the board.

Mr Savage, 71, said after more than 50 years in the workforce he felt it was time for a break.

Travelling with his wife, indulging his love of photography and working on his golf handicap are his new priorities.

"I got my first full time job in 1957," Mr Savage said.

"I'm thinking that there are other things I'd like to do with my life."

Mr Savage's deputy Peter Mason will take over the role when Mr Savage leaves in December.

He said there was never a good time to leave, but it would be good for the retailer to have a fresh face at the helm.

"I've been chairman for nine years," he said.

"It's time for somebody else to pick up things."

Meanwhile, chief executive Paul Zahra said he expected Christmas trading to be flat, with conditions in the retail sector still tough.

"You have to work hard at the moment to stay still," he told reporters.

He said it was hard to predict when consumer sentiment would improve or what was needed to boost it.

"The biggest item that keeps me awake at night is consumer sentiment and what's the game changer for people's view about wealth," he said.

Earlier, Mr Savage told the meeting the high Australian dollar, uncertainty in Europe and the United States and volatility on equity markets were hampering local consumer sentiment.

"Consumer sentiment remains subdued despite interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia," he said.

Reflecting on his 13 years on David Jones' board, Mr Savage said the sexual harassment court case that led to the departure of former chief executive Mark McInnes was hard on everyone at David Jones but he believed the retailer handled it well.

"It put everyone in the organisation under stress," he said.

"People on the shop floor wanted to talk to me about it, customers wanted to talk about it (and) shareholders.

"I think we did the right things. The only regret I would have is that it was not able to be handled outside of the public arena, but that wasn't our choice."

On the controversial hoax takeover bid David Jones received from EB Private Equity earlier this year, Mr Savage said the retailer was highly skeptical from the start.

But when news of it leaked onto a blog David Jones had no choice but to go public.

"We were in the process of trying to get information to make an informed decision on a confidential proposal but then it all leaks on a blog and then everything changes," he said.

AAP klw/bt/gfr