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New year, new CEOs at Designer Brands, Cotopaxi, Vitamin Shoppe

On the Move has the latest C-level hires at Impossible Foods, Build-A-Bear and Provi.

Doug Howe

Doug Howe is the next CEO of Designer Brands, Inc. (Courtesy photo)

Welcome to On the Move. Every week, The Current is rounding up the comings and goings of leaders at brands and retailers across the ecommerce, retail and CPG landscape.

This week, the CEO role is seeing transition at Designer Brands, Rite Aid, Vitamin Shoppe, Cotopaxi and Compana Pet Brands. Meanwhile, Impossible Foods hired a CPG leader as its first chief demand officer and Build-A-Bear is bringing on a CTO.

Here’s the latest leadership hires:

Doug Howe, the current president of DSW, is set to step into the CEO role at parent company Designer Brands Inc. On April 1, he will succeed Roger Rawlins, who will become a board member and advisor. Howe currently serves as EVP of Designer Brands, and brings prior leadership experience at Kohl’s, Qurate Retail Group, Gap Inc. and Walmart. A search will be conducted for the next DSW president.

Davis Smith is set to transition out of the CEO role at outdoor gear brand Cotopaxi, effective July 1. At that time, company president Damien Huang will assume the CEO role. Huang was hired last year from the CEO role of Eddie Bauer. Smith will transition to the position of chairman of the board. For the next three years, he is set to serve in a mission president role for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Recife, Brazil.


Sharon M. Leite Sharon M. Leite (Courtesy photo)

Sharon M. Leite is the next CEO at aesthetics brand Ideal Image. Leite comes to the brand after serving as CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe, and was previously president of Godiva Chocolatier and Sally Beauty. Among her work at The Vitamin Shoppe, Leite launched a tech-driven format and introduced personalization, while increasing innovation in private brands. Ideal Image has a network of more than 800 doctors that perform services such as laser hair removal, body sculpting and Botox.

Heyward Donigan will step down as CEO of Rite Aid. Board member Elizabeth “Busy” Burr will step in as CEO of the drug store chain on an interim basis, while an executive search is conducted. Burr brings executive experience in health from Carrot, Inc. and Humana. Donigan, whose departure was effective immediately on Monday, served in the CEO role since 2019. The move comes as Rite Aid is forecasting a net loss of $551-584 million for the current fiscal year.

Bob Robbins Bob Robbins. (Courtesy photo)

Bob Robbins is joining alcoholic beverage ecommerce marketplace Provi as president and chief operating officer. Previously, Robbins held leadership positions at Juul Labs, Constellation Brands, Beam Suntory, McKinsey & Company. Provi aims to simplify wholesale alcohol ordering by connecting buyers, distributors and suppliers.

Greg Pearson started the new year in a new role as CEO of Compana Pet Brands, the pet care and nutrition company. Pearson succeeds John Howe, who is transitioning to a new role as senior advisor. Pearson most recently served as CEO of Pretzels, Inc., a pretzel manufacturer that was sold to Hershey in 2021. He also established Chewy’s private brands business during a stint at the pets-focused ecommerce platform.

Sherene Jagla will be the first chief demand officer at plant-based meat brand Impossible Foods. Jagla will be responsible for bringing sales, marketing, insights and product development into one function. Jagla brings 25 years of experience, including most recently as SVP and GM of Newell Brands, where she oversaw a $2 billion business across 50 brands. She was also a sales leader at Kellogg’s and held senior roles at Kimberly-Clark.

Sherene Jagla Sherene Jagla. (Courtesy photo)

Dara Meath is heading to Build-A-Bear Workshop to assume the CTO role. Meath brings 20 years of experience, most recently as the head of data, digital and ecommerce at beauty brand Conair. "This hiring demonstrates our continued focus to advance our digital capabilities which have been a fundamental part of our business success contributing to record-setting profitability in 2021 and thus far in 2022,” CFO Voin Todorovic said.

Natalie Knight is set to depart the role of chief financial officer at Ahold Delhaize. Knight served as CFO of the Netherlands-based grocer since 2020. In six months, Knight told the company that she will pursue another career opportunity in the U.S. after 25 years in Europe. Ahold Delhaize started the search for a successor.

Natalie Knight Natalie Knight (Courtesy photo)

Lands’ End is making a series of leadership changes, which are effective Jan. 28. These come as Andrew McLean is set to step in as CEO in a previously-announced move. The changes are as follows:

  • Peter L. Gray was appointed chief commercial officer. He currently serves as EVP, CAO and general counsel.
  • Angie Rieger was promoted to chief transformation officer from the current role as divisional president.
  • Kym Maas is joining the company as SVP of product and merchandising, bringing experience as VP of women’s merchandising at American Eagle Outfitters, as well as Abercrombie & Fitch, LOFT Ann Taylor Inc. and Anthropologie.
  • Jim Gooch, the company’s president and CFO, is stepping down. Chief Accounting Officer Brendan McCracken will serve as interim CFO.
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