June 7, 2018 – 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 search consultants.
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 that retailers now need. To that end, renowned home furnishings brand Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has enlisted Spencer Stuart to lead in its search for a new CEO.
“After careful consideration and in light of our company’s growth plans, we have decided to initiate a search for a CEO to help lead us to a new stage of success in the future,” said Mitchell Gold, chairman and CEO, who co-founded the company with Bob Williams, president of design, in 1989.
“Bob and I built this company from the ground up with an incredible team, and now we want someone to take the reins, work with us to transition the company to the next generation of leadership, and allow me to focus on my strengths, including new strategic partnerships for both our products and our ethos,” said Mr. Gold, who will continue as chairman following completion of the search.
“With 32 stores and more on the horizon, we are particularly interested in finding someone who is an expert in retail to help guide our expansion,” Mr. Williams added.
Many consumers know the brand’s furnishings and philosophy of comfort from its extensive coverage in national and regional media. The company offers employee-friendly benefits that help attract top talent, including a not-for-profit, education-based on-site daycare center and a health-conscious gourmet café run by the company’s corporate chef. The company also provides health fairs, an on-site nurse and college scholarships for children of employees.
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Based in Taylorsville, NC, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams operates a state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution center spanning close to one million square feet that supports the brand’s expanding retail, wholesale, office and contract/hospitality sectors.
Since 2014, the company has been backed by the Stephens Group, a family-owned investment firm based in Little Rock, AR. The Stephens Group uses its permanent capital base and extensive resources to support private companies with compelling growth opportunities in pursuit of their long-term strategies.
Top Five Search Firm
Spencer Stuart’s CEO practice, for its part, has conducted nearly 1,500 CEO search and succession assignments over the past five years. Veteran recruiter Jim Citrin leads the firm’s North American CEO sector group. During his 20-plus years with the firm, Mr. Citrin has worked with clients on more than 600 CEO, board director, CFO and other top management searches and CEO succession assignments.
Korn Ferry Recruits CEO for J. Crew
Korn Ferry assisted apparel retailer J. Crew in placing James Brett as its CEO. A leader with more than 25 years of retail experience, Mr. Brett most recently served as president of specialty home furnishing company West Elm, a member of the Williams-Sonoma Inc. portfolio.
Global retail company Mattel retained executive search firm Spencer Stuart this past year to assist with its CEO succession plan. That search concluded with the appointment of Margaret H. Georgiadis as its new leader. The toymaker considered both insiders and outsiders when it embarked on the search. But in the end the decision was to go outside, to Google, where Ms. Georgiadis served as president Americas since 2011.
Challenges Facing the Retail Sector
According to Herbert Mines Associates, 31 percent of incoming retail CEOs are focused on international expansion as a key strategic priority, making that global mindset a competitive differentiator when searching for new leaders.
Retail CEO turnover is accelerating. Herbert Mines reported that 47 percent of public retail companies with revenues exceeding $1 billion experienced a chief executive change the past five years (up from 34 percent during the previous three years). Since 2007, 71 percent of retail companies have experienced a switch in CEO.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media