Bed Bath & Beyond on Wednesday appointed Joe Hartsig to chief merchandising officer, effective immediately. Additionally, he will serve as president to Harmon Stores, according to a company press release.
In the role Hartsig will develop and implement the company's product strategy, as well as creating a growth strategy for the Harmon banner. He will report to recently appointed CEO Mark Tritton.
Most recently serving as chief merchandising officer of Walgreens, Hartsig also has experience at Walmart, Motorola and SC Johnson.
The appointment of Hartsig to the chief merchandising role is the first big hire for Tritton, who took the helm in November.
"To rebuild our business, we need leaders of change. Joe's experience as one of the leading innovators in retail makes him perfectly suited to help re-establish our authority in the Home, Baby and Beauty markets," CEO Mark Tritton said in a statement. "Improving the curation and differentiation of our assortment is our number one strategic priority, and Joe will be the driving force behind our ambition to make it easy to feel at home with Bed Bath & Beyond, while also providing the leadership and vision needed to grow our Harmon business."
Tritton has acted swiftly in making changes at the retailer. In December, Bed Bath & Beyond announced six senior level executives would be exiting the company. Those included its chief merchandising officer as well as the chief marketing and chief digital officer. Since joining, Tritton has also led a real estate agreement as well as the sale of one of its non-core banners, PersonaliztionMall.com.
Bed Bath & Beyond has launched two of six planned private labels, but the retailer lags in its private label penetration. While at Walgreens, Hartsig oversaw the front-of-store retail products division and led the owned brands organization. Together with Tritton, who previously served as Target's chief merchant overseeing the launch of more than 30 private label brands in two and a half years, the two may hold the expertise to effectively roll out the remainder of the brands the struggling retailer needs to differentiate itself from the competition.
Private labels and exclusive merchandise may also lead to increased store traffic, something Tritton noted last month has been on the decline as of late. In preliminary earnings results, the retailer reported comparable sales fell some 5.4% in December and January, with store comps falling nearly 11%, as it faced steep declines in store traffic and inventory management problems.
The retailer last month also laid out a $1 billion capital allocation strategy, which includes investing up to $400 million on store remodels, among other things, to help drive customers into its stores. According to foot traffic analytics firm Placer.ai, Bed Bath & Beyond's store visits were 23.6% below the baseline compared to 10.9% below the baseline in January 2019.
The appointment also comes just days after the retailer announced it was cutting about 500 jobs, or 10% of its corporate workforce, in a move it says will reduce annual selling, general and administrative expenses by about $85 million.