New leaders at Under Armour, Sun-Maid, Victoria's Secret CEO resigns
On the Move has details on key ecommerce and digital promotions at Nestlé and Colgate Palmolive.
On the Move has details on key ecommerce and digital promotions at Nestlé and Colgate Palmolive.
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.
To kick off 2023, there are new top leaders at Under Armour, Back to Nature, Sun-Maid and Good Karma Foods. Meanwhile, the CEO of Victoria’s Secret is stepping down. Plus, CPG giants Nestlé and Colgate Palmolive made key promotions in the ecommerce and digital executive ranks.
Here are the latest moves:
Stephanie Linnartz was named CEO of Under Armour, effective February 27. She joins the performance apparel brand from Marriott International, where she led digital transformation, sports partnerships and the growth of the Bonvoy loyalty program over a 25-year career. Under Armour conducted a search following the departure of previous CEO Patrik Frisk in June.
“[Linnartz] is a proven growth leader with a distinguished track record of brand strategy, omnichannel execution, talent acquisition and development, and passion for driving best-in-class consumer connectivity, experience, and brand loyalty,” said Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, in a statement.
Amy Hauk is stepping down as CEO of the Victoria’s Secret brand. According to an SEC filing, Hauk notified the lingerie company last week that she will be resigning on March 31. Martin Waters, who is the CEO of Victoria’s Secret & Co., will assume the brand CEO responsibilities at that time. Hauk stepped into the CEO role in July, and was also previously the CEO of VS&Co.’s Pink brand. The news came on the same day as Victoria’s Secret completed the $400 million acquisition of DTC brand Adore Me, which was initially announced in November.
Jennifer Jorgensen. (Photo via Linkedin)
Jennifer Jorgensen was named CEO of Back to Nature. She joins the health food store staple from General Mills, where she most recently served as VP and general manager of cereal. This hire follows the acquisition of Back to Nature by Barilla from B&G Foods.
“Jennifer is a champion for diversity and inclusion which will be critical in building our future team. Her leadership in this acquisition is part of our long-term ambition to build a strong multi-brand bakery platform in the United States, where we are already market leader in the crispbread category with Wasa,” Barilla wrote in a LinkedIn post announcing the move.
Steve LoftusjoinedSun-Maid of California as president and chief operating officer. The newly-created role will oversee all functional areas of the business. Previously, Loftus held leadership roles at TreeHouse Foods and Kraft Heinz. He succeeds Braden Bender, who was serving in an interim president role since September and is now returning to the CFO role.
Mike Murray will take the reins as CEO of Good Karma Foods. He brings 25 years of CPG experience to the plant-based milk and dairy alternative brand. Most recently, Murray was CEO of Teton Waters Ranch. Before that, he held executive roles at free2b Foods, So Delicious Dairy Free, WhiteWave Foods Company and LARABAR. Along with the hire, Good Karma said it is poised to close on a new round of financing in the near future. It will be led by Valor Siren, Loft Growth Partners and existing investors.
Veeral Shah was named chief ecommerce and digital officer at Nestlé USA. Previously VP of commercial strategy and development, Shah also brings experience from Campbell Soup Company, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, and Accenture. Here’s how he detailed the role in a LinkedIn post:
I have always aspired to have a voice on a C-suite level executive leadership team and to achieve this at the world's largest CPG company is truly humbling.
Since joining Nestlé 4 years ago, I have been blown away by the culture, leadership, and people I get to work with everyday. With this newly created position, Nestlé once again confirms its commitment to stay ahead of the curve in the eCommerce & digital space.
David Foster was promoted to chief information officer at Colgate Palmolive, according to a LinkedIn post. He succeeds Mike Crowe, who retired at the end of 2022, Consumer Goods Technology reported. A 25+ year veteran of the company, Foster will lead IT, strategy and digital transformation at the consumer goods company.
Rebecca Scheidler was promoted to SVP and general manager of consumer foods at the J.M. Smucker Co. She will oversee the $1.7 billion snacks and spreads business, which includes Jif and Smucker's. Scheidler will succeed Tina Floyd, who is stepping down on Jan. 13 to become CEO of Hudsonville Ice Cream. Before joining Smucker in 2019, Scheidler held leadership roles at Bristol Myers Squibb and Kao Corporation.
Zahir Ibrahimjoined digitally native dog product company BARK as chief financial officer. Ibrahim brings financial leadership experience from Do Good Foods, Kind, Annie’s and Molson Coors. At Kind and Annie’s, he was involved in mergers and acquisitions. “I am incredibly excited to join BARK as it continues to expand into compelling new areas like food and consumables while remaining true to its mission of making all dogs happy,” he said.
Hermann, Thota and Mangini. (Courtesy photo)
Cotopaxi, the outdoors brand, named three new executives:
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.