May 12, 2022 – Retailers are facing major shifts in their businesses that call for “unprecedented responses” by CEOs who can effectively lead through change, intuitively and analytically understand the evolving consumer, and respond to ambiguity, according to a recent search firm report. Developed markets, excess retail capacity, rising prices, the shift to omni-channel retail, and the unpredictable pace of change in consumer shopping habits all affect the type of leader retailers now need. And so much continues to evolve as the global pandemic takes aim at the retail sector. But retail organizations still need leadership – arguably more now than ever. One example: Retail-focused executive search firm Kirk Palmer Associates recently assisted in the recruitment of Kelli Dugan as chief design and merchandising officer of Fabletics, a global active-lifestyle brand co-founded by actress and entrepreneur Kate Hudson. Partner Lindsay Stevens led the assignment.
“Kelli joins Fabletics with more than a decade of top-notch design and merchandising experience under her belt,” said Adam Goldenberg, CEO of Fabletics. “She brings extensive experience leading merchandising and product strategy to our team, and we’re thrilled to welcome Kelli. No one is more qualified and equipped to run our design and merchandising team and efforts than she is. I can’t wait to see how she helps us push the envelope even further.”
Ms. Dugan has held leadership roles at leading fashion brands, serving as the SVP of merchandising for Rag & Bone and head of merchandising and product strategy at Everlane, playing an integral role in the first five years of the brand. Earlier in her career, Ms. Dugan spent nine years at Gap Inc working across Banana Republic and Old Navy.
“I am honored to join the Fabletics team,” said Ms. Dugan. “I see Fabletics as a unique brand in the industry given its ability to bring amazing products to a global audience with a powerful message of inclusivity at its forefront. My goal is to provide our members and guests with versatile products that make them feel good and keep up with their active lifestyles. I believe Fabletics sits at the nexus of technology, fashion, and activewear, which is a combination that has no limits in today’s world.”
Established in 2013, Fabletics has evolved from a disruptive digital athleticwear brand into a global, multi-channel active life-wear brand spanning apparel categories. The company is headquartered in El Segundo, CA.
Since its founding in 1987, Kirk Palmer Associates has grown globally, helping retailers hire CEOs, presidents and front-of-house executives spanning a wide array of marketing, merchandising, stores, sales, e-commerce and digital leadership roles. Kirk Palmer Associates is made up of retail and fashion industry veterans. The firm’s partners have placed more than 1,000 CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and other senior executives at over 200 retail and wholesale companies across all channels, sectors and functional areas.
The world of retail financial services is changing constantly, according to recruiters focused on the sector. Thanks to the ever-evolving regulatory environment, digital banking becoming native, and the rise of challenger banks and disruptors in the credit and payment space, the range of skills needed in the C-suite are broader than ever. Not to mention the need to focus on commercial goals in the wake of the pandemic. Several retail financial services firms have responded by appointing chief commercial officers.
But, in a new report, Tom Forrest, managing director, and Tom Arnall, director, retail, consumer, financial services and fintech, of Sheffield Haworth question whether this is really a new role and whether it is really necessary for firms to hire one. Is chief commercial officer just a new name for a skill-set that’s always been around the executive table? And if it is new, what should firms look for in a chief commercial officer?
Ms. Stevens leads the West Coast executive search practice at Kirk Palmer Associates. In this role, she works at the intersection of founders and the investment community helping fast-growing brands hire the leadership talent they need to scale. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Stevens gained more than 15 years of marketing and digital strategy experience at companies including Apple, kate spade new york, and C. Wonder. Additionally, she is a consultative partner to businesses at every stage of growth and provides guidance on organizational design, talent assessment, and executive compensation.
Chief Merchandizing Officers
Chief merchandising officers oversee their company’s buying activities and develop strategies to make the most informed purchasing plans. These C-suite executives make purchasing decisions for a company, including determining product availability, demand, market trends and pricing. They typically manage a team of purchasing or merchandising staff. Chief merchandising officers also implement merchandising plans.
Functional leaders in the sector, say recruiters, remain in hot demand and in retail environments they are viewed as the second highest position in the company after the CEO. “The right person for the job needs a varied skill set to bring together the numbers and strategic vision,” said Suzanne Piazza, assistant professor at Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media