Lands’ End chief marketing officer and SVP Steven Rado resigned from that position May 19 and as a company employee May 21, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Rado arrived at the retailer two years ago, shortly after the apparel retailer’s spinoff from Sears and months before the arrival of Federica Marchionni as CEO from Dolce & Gabbana.
The company said it is conducting an external search for a replacement, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal.
Lands' End has a fairly complex needle to thread these days—stepping up its fashion game and recapturing the appealing the vibe that once resonated with customers, while also maintaining loyalty from its base of fans.
Alex Fuhrman, an analyst at Craig-Hallum Capital Group, told Bloomberg that Marchionni's efforts bode well for the company, as long as they don't interfere with its already loyal customers. “It makes sense for them to try to move slightly toward a younger customer,” Fuhrman said. “As long as they stay focused on their existing demographic.”
Marchionni says she is aware of Lands’ End strength, though there are some signs that her idea of fashion may not be a great fit for a brand that is closer kin to the likes of J. Crew or even LL Bean.
"When I first started at Lands' End, I was being asked by many people to bring back the Lands' End Canvas collection," Marchionni said in a statement when that catalog launched. "When we began to design this exciting new collection, the name, Canvas by Lands' End, was a perfect choice. Following the vision, this new collection allows us the opportunity to reach an additional audience, younger and more fashion conscious, with a strong desire to express their personal style.”
She’s brought on a team, including executives with experience at Saks, J. Crew, and Bonobos to help with design and the supply chain. Marchionni called 2015 a "transition year" in its most recent earnings report, and said 2016 will focus on mixing up product assortment and branding initiatives and improving e-commerce operations. It’s possible that Rado, a retail veteran from outside the fashion world, was out of step with her team.
As Gap and especially J. Crew flounder, Lands’ End has an opportunity to capture some new loyalties. But that will be harder to do without a CMO.