A new year marks changes for many, it’s not uncommon to see football coaches fired after disappointing seasons and it’s quite normal for retailers to announce retirements and make key executive changes. Four large retailers made human resource announcements on Tuesday, Jan. 8.
• Lampert to take CEO role at Sears
Sears Holdings Corp. announces chairman and hedge fund billionaire Edward Lampert will take over the role of CEO, as Louis D'Ambrosio will depart the retailer next month because of family health matters.
D'Ambrosio will remain on the board until the company's annual meeting in May. He was named CEO in February 2011, ending a three-year search.
Lampert has been known as a hands-on chairman at the operator of Sears and Kmart. The change formalizes that role at a time when the retailer is struggling with sales declines and losses.
Analysts say the majority shareholder, Lampert has a challenging road ahead as the retailer works to turnaround six consecutive years of comparable-store sales. In the recent holiday period, Sears reported a 1.8% decline in same-store sales.
In the past year, Sears has sold off assets netting $1.8 billion in cash, while also and trying to rein in operating costs.
Brian Sozzi, chief equities analyst at NBG Productions, wonders whether Lampert will now just focus on selling off more assets instead of fixing the business.
“The problem has has been plain for some time, is that Sears and Kmart stores – already dreary places when Lampert latched onto them – have become even less welcoming for lack of investment and, shall we say, energy among the dispirited staff,” writes Y-Charts analyst, Jeff Bailey.
Sears operates more than 2,600 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Shares of Sears Holding closed Tuesday (Jan. 8) at $40.16, losing $2.76 on the news.
• Ascena hires food executive as chief financial officer
Ascena Retail Group Inc. has chosen Dirk Montgomery as its chief financial officer, effective Jan.16. Montgomery succeeds Armand Correia, who will be retiring after 21 years with the organization.
Montgomery comes to Ascena from Blooming Brands -- the parent of Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill and Carrabba’s. He also worked in executive roles at ConAgra and Sara Lee.
Ascena Retail is the parent of tween and ladies brands including: Justice, Lane Bryant, Maurices, Dressbarn and Catherines. Through its subsidiaries Ascena operates approximately 3,800 stores throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.
• Gymboree names Gap exexcutive as new CEO
The Gymboree Corporation appointed Gap Inc. executive Mark Breitbard, as the company’s new CEO. An accomplished retail executive, Breitbard most recently served as president of Gap North America, and previously as the executive vice president of GapKids and babyGap.
Breitbard’s appointment is effective Jan. 14, when he assumes his responsibilities from interim CEO Kip M. Garcia.
Garcia will resume his former duties as president and interim chief operating officer Yvonne Hao will continue to work closely with the Gymboree management team as she returns to her role as an operating partner at Bain Capital.
Breitbard brings to Gymboree a distinguished retail career in positions of increasing responsibility with leading apparel brands. In addition to his experience at Gap brand, Breitbard previously served as president of Levi’s U.S. retail and held executive leadership positions at Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic and Old Navy.
“I am thrilled by the opportunity to join Gymboree, an established leader in the children’s apparel market with strong brands, a loyal and valuable customer franchise, a values-based culture, and a passionate team,” said Breitbard. “I look forward to working with our associates and leadership team to build on the strategies they’ve developed and drive our growth opportunities in our core business, in our new concepts such as Crazy 8, and in our international markets.”
A native San Franciscan, Breitbard, grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from Vassar College. He earned an M.B.A.degree from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.
• Whole Foods hires new tech executive
Jason J. Buechel has been hired as global vice-president and chief information officer at Whole Foods Market.
Buechel will oversee all aspects of information technology for the company.
He was previously senior executive and managing director in retail operations at Accenture, a technology and consulting firm in Overland Park, Kan. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.