13 September 2022
C-level shakeups at Shopify, Wish and Peloton
On the Move has the latest leadership news from Kraft Heinz, Lands' End, MeUndies and more.
On the Move has the latest leadership news from Kraft Heinz, Lands' End, MeUndies 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, retail and CPG landscape.
This week brings comings and goings in the C-suites of Shopify, Wish, Amazon and Peloton. Plus, top retail and CPG executives are taking leading roles at Lands’ End, Hudson’s Bay and Goli Nutrition.
Here’s a look at the latest leadership moves:
Shopify, the ecommerce software company, made a pair of executive moves in a C-suite shakeup:
Vijay Talwardeparted the CEO role at ecommerce marketplace Wish after seven months on the job. Joe Yan, operating partner at GGV Capital, is taking the role of interim CEO. Talwar was appointed in February, and sought to undertake a turnaround effort at the marketplace, which the New York Times reported had shed users and stock value as past leaders put too much emphasis on short-term growth. In June, Talwar launched a vlog series to provide a window into progress at the company. No reason for Talwar’s departure was given.
John Foley and Hisao Kushi, cofounders of Peloton, resigned their respective roles with the connected fitness company. Foley, who previously served as CEO before stepping down in February to make way for current top executive Barry McCarthy, is exiting the position of executive chairman. He will be replaced by Karen Boone, a former top executive at Restoration Hardware. Kushi will leave the chief legal officer role. He will be succeeded by Tammy Albarrán, who previously served as chief legal officer and corporate secretary at Uber. Peloton has been in the midst of a turnaround effort after a dip in late-pandemic demand and inventory issues put the company in tough financial straits.
Andrew McLean will become the next CEO of Lands’ End in January 2023. He will succeed Jerome Griffith, who is retiring at the end of the retailer’s fiscal year after five years with the company. McLean previously served as president of the international division at American Eagle Outfitters, where he is credited with driving ecommerce growth and expanding distribution partnerships with Amazon, QVC and Target.
Bruce Weiss. (Courtesy photo)
Bruce Weiss was appointed to the CEO role at Goli Nutrition, a wellness company that makes apple cider vinegar and vitamins, among other products. He joins a team that also recently brought on Stratis Philippis as chief legal officer, and Elizabeth Carter as chief financial officer. Weiss previously served as VP at Church & Dwight, where he lead the health and well-being division. He previously worked at Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola.
Sophia Hwang-Judiesch was appointed to the role of president at Hudson’s Bay, succeeding Wayne Drummond, who is retiring on September 19. The move comes after owners at HBC separated its in-person stores and ecommerce as standalone businesses of the apparel retailer last year. Hwang-Judiesch previously served as VP of strategic initiatives at Ulta Beauty, where she led the retailer’s Beauty@Target activation, and managed 13 workstreams. She previously held leadership roles at Carter's Oshkosh and Esprit de Corp.
Diana Frost was promoted to chief growth officer of North America at The Kraft Heinz Company. Previously, Frost served as head of North America disruption and Canada chief marketing officer for the food company. She played a key role in a joint venture with NotCo, which used AI to create plant-based versions of Kraft Heinz foods. Frost will oversee the Kraft Heinz in-house agency, and the company’s digital, personalization and paid media teams.
Diana Frost. (Courtesy photo)
Heather MacDougall is stepping down as VP of global workplace health and safety at Amazon, CNBC reported. The October 7 departure will come three years after she joined Amazon in 2019 from the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. During that time, the company continued to operate its fulfillment network during a pandemic, and its workplace practices faced increased scrutiny. Becky Gansert, who is currently VP of global specialty fulfillment, will move into the lead role of workplace health and safety.
Walgreens Boots Alliance, the pharmacy retailer, announced a pair of leadership appointments centered on technology and innovation:
Lisa Marie PillettejoinedFossil Group as SVP and chief marketing officer. Pillette joins the accessories brand from DTC mattress brand Casper, where she served as chief marketing officer. She brings previous experience from Lacoste, Ralph Lauren and Levi Strauss.
Elizabeth Krause. (Courtesy photo)
MeUndies,a direct-to-consumer intimates brand, announced the following leadership appointments:
Anirban Bardalaye was appointed chief product officer at Bloomreach, a commerce experience cloud company. Bardalaye previously served as VP of product management for commerce cloud at Salesforce, and brings 15 years of experience leading product strategy at SaaS companies.
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.