J. Crew taps Starbucks digital exec
J. Crew has tapped Adam Brotman, Starbucks executive vice president of global retail operations and partner digital engagement, to become president and chief experience officer reporting to CEO James Brett, effective next month, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
He is credited with leading Starbucks' state-of-the-art and rapidly evolving digital operations, including mobile pre-ordering, mobile pay and loyalty programs.
Brotman joined Starbucks in 2009, having held leadership positions at digital media companies, including CEO of e-retailer Barefoot Yoga Company, according to Starbucks.
With new leadership and some short-term debt relief, J. Crew has started out the year with some strength. Along with shuttering stores, the apparel retailer introduced a men's shirt meant to be worn untucked and announced a partnership with office-share company WeWork.
The retailer's massive debt load has interfered with the brand's performance and prospects, but despite plummeting sales, fashion missteps and financial straits, the brand retains a strong identity. Longtime CEO Mickey Drexler stepped down over the summer amid the retailer's debt-burdened struggles.
In November, as J. Crew reported a devastating third quarter — total revenue fell 5% to $566.7 million against the year-ago period and same-store sales fell 9% — new CEO Brett promised that he was working to "reinvigorate the J.Crew Brand to reflect the America of today." The sales numbers were announced along with the brand's plans to shutter 50 stores in 2017 and another 39 for the fourth quarter.
Brotman's arrival comes amid evidence that Amazon is swiftly rising in apparel, including its own private-label lines, particularly among young people. In a statement emailed to Retail Dive, he called J. Crew "already an iconic brand" and said he would work to help "build world-class customer experiences across every touch point, whether technology or digital platforms, in-store, or at the intersection of both."
For his part, Brett said that Brotman's experience with global field operations and "cutting edge consumer-facing digital platforms" will help take J.Crew's strategic initiatives "to the next level."
Brotman will apparently find J. Crew open to suggestions, considering that the company is already getting high marks for its omnichannel chops: mobile retail platform firm Newstore called out the retailer as among a few enabling store associates to locate inventory using mobile tablets to track down items for customers, for pickup at another store or home delivery via e-commerce.
"Either way, the associate ensures the customer walks out of the store with the [item] in hand or on the way to their home," according to the report from Newstore founder and CEO Stephan Schambach, which was emailed to Retail Dive.
Follow Daphne Howland on Twitter