Neiman Marcus on Monday said that Darcy Penick will return to the company as president of Bergdorf Goodman Sept. 4, reporting directly to Neiman Marcus Group CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck. She will manage the Bergdorf Goodman brand on and offline, and two Manhattan-based flagship locations, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Penick launched her retail career 18 years ago at Neiman Marcus Group, holding various merchandising roles at both the Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf banners. In 2006 she left for Saks and in 2009 for fashion e-retailer Shopbop (owned by Amazon since 2006), eventually rising to CEO in 2016.
Penick led Shopbop "with a focus on enhanced customer engagement through daily fashion content," and her appointment helps Neiman Marcus Group further its "Digital First" strategy, the company said.
Penick is widely credited with elevating Amazon's Shopbop, bringing both style and heft to its online presence. She led a revamp of the site last year after Amazon let the popular fashion destination languish for a while.
It's the kind of destination that Neiman hopes to build online. The likes of Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have dismantled the idea that better fashion won't sell online, but upscale retailers like Neiman Marcus and its Bergdorf banner have a lot of catching up to do. Penick's experience and "her success in digital and international retail" made her "the perfect choice to accelerate global growth at Bergdorf Goodman," van Raemdonck said in a statement.
The company has credited its "Digital First" strategy for recent sales gains. Earlier this month, van Raemdonck told analysts that 35% of the company's sales were digital, on the path to 40%, and that he sees a time when the balance will be as much as 50-50.
"I don't really care if a customer looks online then buys in stores or buys in stores and returns online. The importance is that we're there at all times," he said, according to a transcript from Yahoo Finance. "I think we have a unique position, which is that we have $1.5 billion of revenues today of luxury retail online. We have about 12 million unique visitors a month that go on all 3 brands' luxury sites. And then if you compare that with the 44 stores we have in the best location and the best brands we offer, that's really, for me, the magic formula that we have."
But the company is operating under a heavy debt load that isn't likely to shrink much any time soon. Its total long-term liabilities stand at about $6 billion, of which $4.47 billion is long-term debt. Neiman has showed up on numerous credit watch lists, and data from CreditRiskMonitor puts the risk of Neiman filing for bankruptcy in the next 12 months at between 9.99% and 50%.