After little more then a year and a half of the old college try at revamping Lands’ End, very sleek CEO Federica Marchionni has dipped out. She probably never wants to hear the words “school uniform business” ever again.
That’s according to the Wall Street Journal:
Lands’ End swung to a loss in its latest quarter and its revenue declined due to less discounting. The company’s stock, inactive in premarket trading Monday, has fallen 33% from a year ago.
Ms. Marchionni, in a press release, said she and the board “agreed it is time for others to bring Lands’ End into the future.” She will also step down from the company’s board.
A veteran of Dolce & Gabbana and Ferrari, Marchionni was brought on to revitalize the Lands’ End brand and clearly set out to attract a younger, more fashion-conscious customer. The trick, of course, is doing that without shedding existing customers too fast. She’d been at Lands’ End a year when Marchionni found herself in a big American culture war mess upon featuring an interview she’d personally conducted with Gloria Steinem in one of the brand’s catalogs, which infuriated many conservative Lands’ End shoppers. (Note that the company has a big school uniforms business.) The company then scrubbed the interview and apologized, which in turn pissed off feminists.
Reports suggest things weren’t going swimmingly even without that particular fracas, however. The Wall Street Journal took a long look at the company in May, suggesting Marchionni was facing internal culture clash, pressure to turn the numbers around faster, and a tough environment for middle-market brands.
What’s next for Lands’ End? Well, Marchionni is the second CEO to duck out in the last two years, since the brand separated from Sears. And it’s not like that high/low squeeze is going to disappear. Good luck to the next person who takes on this job!