- Nearly a year after filing for bankruptcy, J. Crew on Thursday appointed four execs to its senior management team to bolster its digital, culture, sustainability and marketing initiatives at its brands. J. Crew did not mention when they will officially assume responsibilities in a company press release on the appointments.
- Most of the roles involve broadening the responsibilities of Madewell execs to include J. Crew as well. Derek Yarbrough, Madewell's chief marketing officer, will be chief marketing officer of both Madewell and J. Crew, where he will be in charge of marketing, e-commerce and creative initiatives. Danielle Schmelkin, Madewell's chief information officer, will be the chief information officer of the entire company, where she will lead the company's digital transformation through data insights, and improve connectedness and interactivity with shoppers.
- A former vice president of human resources at Levi Strauss & Co., J. Crew also tapped Jose Davila to guide the company's people strategy and execution as chief people officer. Liz Hershfield is filling a newly created role responsible for sustainability innovations across the company called senior vice president of sustainability after overseeing sourcing and sustainability for just the Madewell banner.
J. Crew was one of the first retailers that filed for Chapter 11 during the pandemic's early days last year. Following its bankruptcy exit, the retailer said it intends to focus on its omnichannel shopping experience across its physical, online and DTC operations.
"I believe strong and relevant brands are customer-centric, community-minded, purpose-driven and powered through innovation, technology and a deeply collaborative culture," Libby Wadle, J.Crew Group's chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The new members will join Michael Nicholson, chief operating officer and Vincent Zanna, chief financial officer, in the management team led by Wadle.
In addition, the company also appointed three new members to its board of directors: Nadia Rawlinson, currently Slack's chief people officer; Frits Dirk van Paasschen, who serves on Williams-Sonoma's board of directors; and Anna Fieler, founder and partner at Madison Park Ventures.
J. Crew, like many retailers, is making changes in leadership in response to the growing demand for a seamless online shopping experience and changes in consumer shopping behavior. GameStop, for instance, has hired multiple e-commerce veterans recently to lead its digital pivot.
However, aside from Davila, J. Crew chose to promote people from within its banners. Yarbrough and Schmelkin most recently served in Madewell as chief marketing officer and chief information officer, respectively. Hershfield was senior vice president of sourcing and sustainability at Madewell.
But with the current fragility of the specialty apparel sector, J. Crew still faces a challenging road ahead. After emerging from bankruptcy, analysts from S&P Global Rating gave J. Crew a B- issuer rating with a negative outlook.
At that time, S&P analysts said it expected, "operating performance will remain weak in the next 12 to 18 months amid economic uncertainty, industry headwinds, and company-specific operational challenges despite its improved capital structure."