01 June 2022
On the Move: New CEOs at Intermix, Diesel, amika and Eva NYC
Plus, hiring news at The Honest Company, Happy Socks and more.
Plus, hiring news at The Honest Company, Happy Socks and more.
Welcome to On the Move. In this hiring-focused weekly feature, The Current is rounding up recent arrivals and departures at brands and retailers across the ecommerce landscape.
This week, a pair of Italian fashion brands make key leadership moves, an activist investor sets his sights on Unilever and brands like The Honest Company and Foot Locker are bringing on transformational talent.
Check out the full roundup:
Karen Katz (Intermix)
This month brings a CEO transition at women’s fashion brand Intermix.
Karen Katz, the former president and CEO of Neiman Marcus and a board member at the brand, will become the interim CEO.
Katz will succeed Jyothi Rao in the top day-to-day role at the brand, who is ending an eight-year tenure with the company.
“We are thrilled to have Karen step into the role as interim CEO,” said Keoni Schwartz, cofounder and managing director of Altamont Capital Partners, which acquired Intermix from Gap, Inc. in 2021. “I want to thank Jyothi for her leadership at Intermix. Her strategic vision to fully integrate the stores with the ecommerce business positioned the brand to be a leading omni-channel fashion business for women.”
Katz retired as CEO of Neiman Marcus in 2018 after 33 years with the retailer, and now serves on the boards of Humana Healthcare, Under Armour and The Real Real.
Reuben Carranza. (Image via LinkedIn)
Independent haircare brands amika and Eva NYC announced the appointment of Reuben Carranza as CEO, effective July 5.
Carranza most recently served as CEO of skincare brand Kate Somerville, and previously served as president of haircare brand Olaplex. He has also worked at R+Co, Wella NA, and Procter & Gamble.
amika and Eva NYC were recently acquired by Bansk Group, a consumer-focused private investment firm. Carranza will work with leaders of both brands to build on recent momentum.
"Demand for prestige and masstige haircare continues to accelerate as customers are increasingly passionate about what goes into products and how they are formulated,” Carranza said in a statement. “Both amika and Eva NYC have built distinctive brands founded on proven efficacy, sustainability, and inclusivity, championing innovation and diversity since inception – I am confident that we will capitalize on a number of new and exciting organic growth and expansion opportunities in the space.
Koen Köppen. (Image via Klarna)
Fintech company Mollie said Koen Köppen is joining the company as chief technology officer. Köppen previously held the same role at Klarna, the prominent Swedish company known for buy now pay later services.
Mollie, which is based in the Netherlands, provides technology that allows businesses to integrate payments into a web-based service or app.
“This was a unique opportunity for Mollie to secure an experienced leader with deep expertise in the financial ecosystem,” said Mollie CEO Shane Happach, in a statement. “Koen has led large teams through many modern-day, complex challenges, and he is the perfect person to help us continue to scale our business.”
Steve Winchell. (Courtesy image)
Digitally native brand The Honest Company named Steve Winchell as EVP for operations and R&D.
Founded by actress Jessica Alba, The Honest Company makes products in categories such as baby, beauty, cleaning and home care. The newly created role will help the company “accelerate our strategy forward as we continue to expand our operations capabilities and portfolio of products," said Nick Vlahos, CEO of The Honest Company, in a statement.
Winchell previously served as EVP of product at cannabis platform The Parent Company, and helped to take it public in 2021. He previously served in leadership roles at The Clorox Company, including with divisions such as Burt’s Bees, cleaning and home care product development.
Neil Bansal. (Image via LinkedIn)
Athletic retailer Foot Locker announced the appointment of Neil Bansal as EVP and Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer. In this newly created role, Bansal will oversee the company’s “global transformation strategy, driving organizational outcomes with a relentless focus on the customer, growth, and innovation,” according to a news release.
Bansal previously served as SVP of strategy, insights and analytics at beer, wine and spirits company Constellation Brands. He has also held roles at McKinsey & Company, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America.
"Neil's fresh perspective and deep experience will further accelerate our consumer-led strategies as we continue to expand our customer base and delight them with a broader and richer product offering and diversify our business across brands, categories, and channels,” said CEO Richard Johnson, in a statement.
Heeth Varnedoe (Courtesy photo)
Flowers Foods, which operates prominent bakery brands including Nature's Own, Dave's Killer Bread and Tastykake, announced that Bradley K. Alexander will retire from the position of chief operating officer after 41 years with the company.
Heeth Varnedoe, currently chief transformation officer, will assume the role of COO in the new year.
Varnedoe initially joined Thomasville, Georgia-based Flowers in 1990 before leaving in 2000, then rejoined in 2012.
"In several key roles at Flowers, Heeth has consistently demonstrated his superior business acumen and in-depth understanding of our company's operations,” CEO A. Ryals McMullian said in a statement. “Given his proven leadership skills, I have every confidence he will do an outstanding job as we continue our digital transformation efforts while remaining focused on serving the needs of our consumers."
Nelson Peltz (Courtesy photo)
Change could be afoot at one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies.
Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz joined the board of Unilever as a non-executive director.
A founding partner of hedge fund Trian Fund Management, L.P, Peltz is known as an activist investor who makes changes with an eye toward improving returns for shareholders.
He previously served on the boards of consumer goods companies including The Procter & Gamble Company, H.J. Heinz Company and Mondelēz International. Peltz shook up P&G during a nearly-four-year stint on that prominent CPG company's board, Bloomberg reported.
Erlado Poletto. (Courtesy image)
Italian fashion brand Diesel promoted Eraldo Poletto to the role of global CEO, Just Style reports.
Poletto previously held CEO roles at footwear brands Stuart Weitzman and Salvatore Ferragamo, as well as designer handbag brand Furla.
Diesel indicated that current CEO Massimo Piombini had completed his task of repositioning the company.
Donald Kohler will become CEO for North America at Diesel, which was Poletto’s previous position. He previous served as president of Burberry Americas.
Roberto Massardi is rejoining Italian luxury brand Prada in the newly created role of chief business development officer, WWD reported. According to WWD, Massardi joins as the company is looking to double ecommerce sales to reach 15% of its retail revenue. Massardi has previously held roles at Pirelli Group, Jil Sander and SpA.
Aftermarket boating and fishing products provider West Marine said Stacey Renfro is joining the company as chief commercial officer.
Renfro most recently served as CEO of digitally native brand mDesign. Previously, she served as Chief Digital and Customer Experience Officer at The Vitamin Shoppe, and held leadership positions at Pier 1 Imports and JC Penney.
“Through her complex growth initiatives and game-changing strategies, she has built lifestyle brands and transformed omni-channel retailers to accelerate digital strategies,” said Eric Kufel, CEO of West Marine, in a statement. “Stacy's passion for boating and the category along with her skillset and proven track record of success, will be an immediate asset to West Marine as we look to enhance our merchandising, productivity and customer experience."
Retailer Happy Socks announced a pair of recent appointments, according to Fashion United:
Unbounce, a landing page and conversion intelligence software company based in Vancouver, Canada, added three new leaders to its executive team. They include:
The retailer's marketplace is expanding quickly.
When it comes to ecommerce growth, was the pandemic a blip or a new trendsetter?
As we move further from the height of COVID-related closures, it’s a question that will start to be answered through the lens of history.
So far, the narrative of ecommerce growth in the U.S. from 2019-2022 has gone like this: Ecommerce’s share of overall retail saw a huge spike at the height of the pandemic in 2020-21, when goods in general were in demand and online shopping was necessary to preserve health and safety. Experts looked out and saw a permanent exponential change in the penetration of ecommerce as a share of retail that would last beyond the pandemic. Then, in 2022, everyone went back to stores and the trendline came back to 2019 levels. Growth was no longer exponential. There was still growth, but it was not happening as fast as during the pandemic period.
With this in mind, it’s worth pointing out that 2023 is the first year that there likely won’t be a pandemic-influenced swing to influence ecommerce growth. It is also a year where demand has suffered challenges amid inflation and interest rate hikes.
So as we seek to determine the importance of ecommerce to overall retail, it’s worth it to continue taking a close look at what growth trends retailers are seeing now, whether ecommerce is remaining resilient amid consumer pullback and how retailers are preparing for the future.
The latest example arrived this week from Macy’s. It’s a fitting one for the times. Overall, Macy’s is seeing a slowdown as consumers pull back on discretionary purchases, with sales declining 7% in the first quarter versus the same quarter of 2022. Digital sales were down 8%.
Macy’s is particularly susceptible to the macroeconomic headwinds that many brands and retailers are facing, as spending among the middle-income consumers it counts as a primary customer base is particularly softening, said GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders.
But while ecommerce is slowing overall, the importance it gained to Macy’s business during the pandemic is remaining in place.
In 2019, ecommerce made up 25% of Macy’s revenue, CEO Jeff Gennette told analysts on the company’s earnings call. That jumped to a high of 44% in 2020. By 2022, digital reached 33% of sales after the pandemic boom. In the first quarter of 2023, it remained at 33%. So, while the trend line dipped after shoppers returned to stores, ecommerce share still settled in at a higher post-lockdown point than it was before the pandemic.
This came in a quarter in which traffic was “relatively good” across both online and in-store, Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette said. It was “flattish” online, and slightly up in stores.
“We do expect that this is the reset year with the penetration between them,” Gennette said. “But we do expect more aggressive growth in digital in the future versus stores as we think about '24 and beyond. And that's going to be foisted by a lot of ideas and strategies.
Over the last year, the retailer has made investments in boosting ecommerce, even as shoppers returned to stores. In a bid to boost the assortment of goods available online, Macy’s launched a marketplace in September 2022 that welcomes goods from third-party sellers.
The marketplace had an “outstanding” first quarter, said Macy’s President Tony Spring, who is poised to succeed Gennette as CEO next year. Gross merchandise value increased over 50% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2022, while the average order value and units per order for marketplace customers was 50% above those not shopping at the marketplace.
Macy’s is continuing to build the marketplace even as it racks up sales. The retailer added 450 brands, ending the quarter with 950 brands.
This is helping to draw in new customers, as well as younger existing customers who are buying more items, resulting in increased basket size.
“We're very excited as to how marketplace is really attracting the Gen Z customer, particularly in categories where it was not economically feasible for us to carry in the past,” Gennette said.
In the end, Gennette said a strong digital and social presence is key to attracting younger consumers. That's a different type of shopper than other age groups.
“We know the younger customer starts first online,” Gennette said. That behavior will still be in place as the generation gets older, and gains more buying power in the process.
Going forward, Macy’s is seeking to expand the model to other retail banners in its portfolio. Bloomingdale’s will open a marketplace in the early fall.
The Macy’s ecommerce trajectory isn’t that different from the wider U.S. ecommerce narrative detailed above. With one quarter of 2023 data, there is evidence that ecommerce share settled out at a higher point after the pandemic than where it started before COVID arrived. There is flattening now, but the retailer is taking it not as a sign of a slowdown, or a signal to change course. Rather, it sees changing consumer behavior as a reason to build for the future.