After a tumultuous entrance to the brand at the beginning of 2020, Away CEO Stuart Haselden is now leaving the DTC luggage brand in February "to pursue another opportunity," according to a press release. He will have been there 13 months total and just four months as the sole CEO.
Haselden arrived at Away in January last year, after an investigation by The Verge into Away's corporate culture. After a confusing set of announcements from Away, he operated as co-CEO with co-founder Steph Korey until October, when Korey officially stepped down.
Haselden will maintain his board seat, according to the release, "where he will continue to be involved in helping steer the business." Co-founder Jen Rubio will take over as interim CEO while the brand looks for a replacement.
The shuffling in Away's C-suite, which began after an article by The Verge in December of 2019, has carried through to 2021, as the company's newly minted CEO prepares to leave.
When Haselden arrived from Lululemon, Away's founders praised the experience he could bring to the brand, including scaling the business and building out the team. Though he is departing after barely a year, he's leaving behind a more robust executive team at the startup, including a new chief supply chain officer, chief financial officer and president of international that joined during his tenure. The company also promoted some roles internally, including adding a chief marketing officer and a senior vice president of product.
Away will continue to benefit from Haselden's leadership as well, if only on the board.
"With Stuart's leadership, Away has successfully navigated through the most unprecedented challenges facing the travel and retail industries," Rubio said in a statement. "The company's pivots during the pandemic resulted in strong performance over the last several months, with momentum continuing to grow. We are grateful for the steady leadership and experience that Stuart brought to the company. His ongoing guidance will be an asset to the Board of Directors as the travel and retail industries rebound."
Travel is one of the categories that has been most impacted by the global health crisis, as safety concerns and, in some countries, travel bans have kept consumers mostly at home. Despite that, Away said in its release that it saw strong growth, without providing any specifics, and Haselden added that the brand has a "huge opportunity in the second half of 2021" as vaccines roll out and travel becomes accepted again.
For some DTC brands, it's been a banner year for sales growth purely because of the sheer number of consumers pivoting their spending to digital channels. For Away, though, which aims to be a travel lifestyle brand, the resurgence of domestic and international travel is key to its ambitions, along with finding a steady CEO.