Christopher & Banks on Thursday announced that it has appointed Keri Jones as CEO and a member of the board, replacing interim CEO and President Joel Waller. Jones' appointment is effective March 12.
Jones has more than 30 years of retail experience, most recently as chief merchant at Dick's Sporting Goods, according to a company press release. She also spent 27 years at Target, where she served in a variety of executive roles, including as executive vice president of global supply chain, as well as various executive positions in merchandising.
In November, Christopher & Banks said third quarter net sales fell 7.7% to $98.5 million, and same-store sales fell 5%, following a 4.5% increase in the year-ago period. E-commerce sales rose 8.5%, following a 16.3% increase in the same period the previous year.
Christopher & Banks, which runs 473 stores, has struggled to meet the challenges in retail, attempting a few turnarounds in recent years.
The specialty women’s apparel retailer fared better under Luann Via, but she was ousted about a year ago after a dismal holiday season. Since then, the retailer has experimented with merchandising changes in some locations. Like shoe retailer Aerosoles, which filed for bankruptcy protection last fall, the company is trying to figure out how to be fashion forward without chasing away its core older customer.
"Based on the results of our test stores, it has become clear that [the customer] wants more choices, and we’re working to make sure that we have the right content, colors and styles to give her the options she craves," interim CFO Marc Ungerman told analysts in November, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. He added that certain categories, like athleisure and novelty knit offerings, were top performers in the third quarter, with sales up in the double digits. For the fourth quarter, the retailer increased its assortment of fashion and reduced its core basic offerings "and continued to see gains in our fashion product," he said.
In a statement last week, board chairman Kent Kleeberger said the retailer hopes to go beyond that with the help of Jones, who arrives after what he said was an extensive search for a new chief executive. He described Jones as a "versatile global executive displaying outstanding leadership with a proven record of driving results through consumer-focused strategy development."
Sales aside, the company is in decent financial shape, with little to no debt, and is looking to sell and lease back its corporate facility in Plymouth, MN. That would unlock additional capital and enhance the company's overall liquidity position, considering the building’s estimated value is in "the low to mid-teen million dollar range," the company said last year.