UPDATED: Lands' End CEO Federica Marchionni resigns

Dive Brief:

  • Lands' End CEO Federica Marchionni has resigned from her role, effective immediately, the outdoor apparel retailer announced Monday morning.
  • Lands' End has appointed Joseph Boitano and James Gooch as co-interim CEOs to fill the now-vacant role, also effective immediately. 
  • Marchionni joined Lands' End in Feb. 2015 after serving as president of Dolce & Gabbana’s USA unit. She replaced Edgar Huber, who resigned from the company after leading Lands' End through its separation from Sears Holdings Corp. in 2014.

Dive Insight:

Marchionni’s time at the helm of Lands' End is over less than two years after it began. A veteran of luxury fashion house Dolce & Gabbana, Marchionni was brought in to add style and sophistication to the Lands' End brand, as well as boost e-commerce sales and capture a younger, more fashionable demographic. Under her watch, the company introduced slimmer-fitting designs, a new line of athletic wear as well as a series of pop-up shops in trendsetting locales like New York’s Fifth Avenue and SoHo neighborhood. Marchionni also brought on a new team of executives with experience at brands like Saks, J. Crew, and Bonobos to help with design and the supply chain.

It didn’t work. Lands’ End recently reported second quarter net revenue of $292 million, down from $312.4 million in the year-ago quarter: Direct segment net revenue declined 6.9% to $246.4 million, and retail segment net revenue fell 4.3% to $45.5 million, driven by a 2.5% decrease in same store sales.

Marchionni tried to heighten the outdoor apparel retailer's appeal to new consumers without losing its core demographic. In April, Lands' End announced the reintroduction of its Canvas brand as a collection of on-trend apparel aimed at younger, more fashionable shoppers. Originally introduced in 2009, the brand initially seemed promising but was soon discontinued after the retailer was hobbled by the struggles of then-parent company Sears. Marchionni called Canvas the "perfect choice" for the company's appeal to a younger market, and the relaunch was paired with new marketing efforts in fashion magazine Vogue and a redesign of its iconic catalog. 

Marchionni continued hammering at the problem, announcing Lands End agreed to offer Amazon customers a limited number of items from its sports, footwear and Canvas collections after receiving assurances that the e-commerce goliath will adhere to Lands’ End pricing stipulations. Marchionni told analysts that Lands’ End selling its merchandise on the site presents “an additional channel for us to introduce consumers to our new brand and expanded category.”

Reaction to the move was decidedly mixed. Some analysts predict that selling on Amazon may be more compelling than Lands' End selling on its own website, given the e-commerce giant’s reputation for fostering a positive customer experience. But others foresee the partnership backfiring if (or, more likely, when) Amazon makes changes that are favorable for itself, but are unfavorable for the retailer.

Whatever happens, Marchionni will now be watching from the sidelines. "Her creative vision has helped Lands' End begin its transformation as a global lifestyle brand with a broader merchandise offering that is more relevant in today's marketplace,” Josephine Linden, chairman of Lands’ End’s board of directors, said in a statement. “Federica is stepping down at this time, leaving Lands' End well positioned to continue its evolution and capture the growth opportunities that exist for our iconic brand in this dynamic retail environment."

In the short term, Lands’ End will turn to Boitano (who currently serves as the retailer’s executive vice president and chief merchandising and design officer) and Gooch (currently executive vice president and chief operating and financial officer) to lead the way. Lands’ End has engaged executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles to help identify a permanent CEO, and will consider both internal and external candidates for the role.

Marchionni is the second high-ranking Lands’ End executive to exit the company in recent months. In June, the company promoted Becky Gebhardt to EVP and chief marketing officer following the resignation of Steven Rado, who held the same titles.

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Top image credit: Lands' End