Land’s End named Bernard McCracken — who has worked for the retailer for nine years as chief accounting officer and since January as interim CFO — as its permanent CFO, according to a Thursday release. The move ends a search for a new finance chief to replace Jim Gooch, who stepped down earlier this year.
The Dodgeville, Wisconsin-based company said it picked McCracken after evaluating a number of candidates. “Having worked closely with Bernie over the past eight months, I am confident that his appointment best positions Land’s End to execute on our strategic goals and drive profitable growth,” CEO Andrew McLean, who succeeded the retiring Jerome Griffith in January, said in a statement included in the release.
The move comes as the 60-year-old company is struggling to hold its place in the now e-commerce-driven retail sector. Last month Land’s End reported a wider net loss of $8 million in the second quarter ended July 28, compared to a net loss of $2.2 million in the year earlier period, although the company said its Q2 gross margins rose to 43.2% compared to 41% in the year-earlier, primarily due to strength in the swim product categories, a reduction in markdown inventory and reduced supply chain-related costs.
Land’s End, which sells apparel along with monogrammed canvas tote bags that harken back to its early days as a mail-order sailing equipment retailer, is facing a number of headwinds.
Among them is that the company needs to bring in new shoppers to replenish its aging customer databases. The Land’s End shopper is generally in their mid-50s and the company has previously sought to appeal to the Gen X shopper rather than try to go too young, according to Retail Dive.The brand has also sought to partner with Amazon, Target and Kohl’s to extend its reach.
Like many firms in the current economy, Land’s End has also focused on being more efficient and disciplined in its operations. In the most recent quarter McLean noted that it was strategically right-sizing its inventory levels. In the second quarter the company reported a 30% year-over-year reduction in its inventory position.
“We didn't want to chase that last dollar of demand,” McLean said, according to a transcript of the company’s second quarter earnings call, adding that the company wants to “actually get to the point where we run out of items versus sort of having an endless stream of product.”
Companies often turn to chief accounting officers to fill in for departing CFOs. Sometimes it leads to permanent positions as is the case with McCracken and some others. In July Hertz Global Holdings promoted interim CFO Alexandra Brooks, who had served as the company’s chief accounting officer, to become permanent CFO, CFO Dive previously reported.
McCracken brings decades of corporate finance experience to his new role. Earlier in his career he worked as a staff internal auditor at Federated Department Stores, an assistant controller at Loehmann's and briefly worked in Deloitte’s Retail Internal Audit Group, according to his LinkedIn profile. Most recently, immediately before joining Land’s End, he held senior roles at The Children’s Place.