Guitar Center has brought in new key executives as the musical instrument retailer navigates challenges in its sector and a large debt pile. Last week, the company said in a press release it had appointed Erica Moran as vice president of marketing and Bob Buckborough as vice president of e-commerce.
A marketer with experience at Stride Rite, PetSmart and ACIRE Consulting Group, Moran will oversee all of Guitar Center's marketing efforts, including email campaigns, retail and category marketing, visual merchandising, and media and partnership marketing, according to the release.
Buckborough will lead the websites Guitarcenter.com and MusiciansFriend.com, along with marketplace efforts and e-commerce operations, according to the release. He served most recently as vice president of e-commerce at boating gear retailer West Marine.
Guitar Center has been working to manage a heavy debt load and re-engineer itself to meet a changing retail industry and upheavals specific to its sector.
The retailer earlier this year sought to refinance hundreds of millions in debt in a transaction completed in April and viewed by credit analysts as a distressed exchange comparable to default. Since the exchange, both S&P and Moody's have upgraded their ratings on the company's debt, a holdover from a leveraged buyout by Ares Capital in 2014.
The retailer's troubles come in a market that has had a turbulent run in recent years. Earlier this month, iconic guitar maker Gibson Brands filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a plan for some creditors to take over the company following a court reorganization. Against that backdrop, guitar sales are actually on the rise, with five years straight of growth, and are slated to continue for another four at least, according IBISWorld data cited by Rolling Stone. National Association of Music Merchants has said guitar sales in the U.S. recently have hit their highest numbers in a decade, according to figures cited by several media outlets and Guitar Center itself.
However, the Washington Post reported last year that over the past decade electric guitar sales have fallen dramatically, from about 1.5 million guitars sold annually to just over 1 million. Online players have challenged the mostly brick-and-mortar retailer, and the company with its new hires is looking to fight back.
In a statement following Gibson's bankruptcy, a spokesperson for Guitar Center said that the company's the "retail business holds strong despite the shake up." The spokesperson pointed Guitar Center's $80 million in investments into new stores, lessons facilities, store remodels and other expansions.
"Guitar Center has seen the highest sales in guitars in their history over the last year alone," Guitar Center's Chief Marketing, Communications and Customer Officer Jeannine D'Addario said in a statement in May. "Despite Gibson's unfortunate bankruptcy and misinformation on the supposed decline in guitar sales overall, the guitar category is thriving and has seen an overall increase in sales."