- Guitar Center on Tuesday announced three leadership changes, including naming Gabriel Dalporto CEO. Dalporto replaces Ron Japinga, who had held the position of president and CEO since 2016. No reason was given for Japinga’s departure.
- The musical instrument retailer also said this week that Tim Martin has returned as chief financial officer. Martin held that role at Guitar Center from 2012 to 2022 and has more than 25 years of retail industry experience.
- Ken Hicks was also appointed chairman of the board. Hicks, who has over 40 years of experience, is currently executive chairman of Academy Sports and Outdoors and was previously president and CEO of Foot Locker. All of the leadership changes are effective immediately.
The leadership changes place Dalporto, Martin and Hicks at the top of a retailer with more than 300 physical stores under the flagship brand and a digital business. Guitar Center also owns Music & Arts, which specializes in school band and orchestra instruments, and Musician’s Friend, an e-commerce retailer.
"Coming from a family of musicians, some of my fondest memories growing up were of visiting Guitar Center stores with my father where we obsessed over the incredible guitars and cutting-edge equipment,” Dalporto said in an announcement.
“I look forward to continuing to enhance that same in-store experience for our customers while also leveraging my digital transformation expertise to meet customers wherever they shop,” Dalporto continued.
Dalporto has served as a member of Guitar Center’s board of directors since 2018. In a statement, the company's equity investor group, which includes Ares Private Equity Group, The Carlyle Group and Brigade Capital Management, lauded Dalporto’s leadership in that capacity and praised his skillset.
"Gabe has deep expertise in areas critical to advancing Guitar Center's strategic initiatives, including digital transformation, customer acquisition and maintaining a best-in-class customer experience,” the investor group said. Dalporto is also currently part of LendingTree’s board of directors and previously served in various C-suite roles at the consumer finance marketplace.
Guitar Center did not respond to a request for comment on Japinga’s exit from the CEO role. Japinga joined Guitar Center in 2014, and was named president and CEO in 2016. The retailer filed for and exited bankruptcy during his tenure, shedding about $800 million in debt during restructuring.
Returning CFO Martin left Guitar Center last summer to accept a dual COO and CFO role at Torrid Holdings. He exited the position eight months later, in May. Guitar Center did not say who was handling CFO responsibilities before Martin’s return to the role, and did not respond to requests for comment on it, although Bloomberg Law reported in February that Guitar Center tapped Kyle Richter of Berkeley Research Group to serve as interim CFO.