A few months after Stuart Haselden announced he was leaving Away, the company has named co-founder Jen Rubio its next CEO, effective immediately, according to details emailed to Retail Dive. Rubio took over in the interim in February.
Rubio was previously president and chief brand officer of Away. The CEO appointment follows an executive search in which the board identified Rubio as the "ideal leader to advance the business into its next critical phase," the company said.
Away has also hired Laura Willensky as its first chief commercial officer, where she will lead e-commerce, merchandising, retail, customer experience and international teams. She comes with experience from Talbots, J. Crew and Victoria's Secret Beauty.
In the past year and a half alone, Away has had four different CEO constructions.
Steph Korey was CEO of the brand until reports of toxic work culture at Away in December 2019 caused her to step down, nominating Haselden to take over in January 2020. That idea was then kiboshed, and Haselden and Korey operated as co-CEOs for a time until Korey officially stepped down in October of last year. Haselden operated as the company's sole CEO for about four months before leaving for another company, Arc'teryx, at which point Jen Rubio took over in the interim.
It's not surprising, then, that the DTC brand is looking for stability. Among the reasons for nominating Rubio to the role, the board of directors cited "the advantages of maintaining continuity across the business," as well as her leadership through the pandemic and her strong sense of the company's vision.
It appears the company has also been busy rounding out its executive team over a tumultuous period that has hit travel particularly hard. In addition to Willensky, Chief Financial Officer Catherine Dunleavy and Chief Supply Chain Officer Candan Erenguc both joined the brand within the past year. Chief Marketing Officer Selena Kalvaria, Chief Design Officer Cuan Hanly and General Counsel Lydia Cheuk join them in the C-suite.
"The past year has been a difficult one for nearly every industry, but especially so for retail and travel businesses," Rubio said in a statement. "The Away team has demonstrated an acute ability to remain resonant among our consumers while delivering resilient financial performance."
While the company didn't go into details, Away cited "impressive sales performance in recent months," as the vaccine and lessened concern over the pandemic have changed consumer behavior around travel. While preparing for the "imminent return to travel," Rubio tackled company-wide strategic planning, including investing in physical and digital infrastructure, identifying category expansion opportunities and refreshing the brand strategy.