Matt Baer has left his post as Macy’s chief customer and digital officer to become CEO of Stitch Fix and a member of its board, effective June 26, the apparel box e-retailer said Wednesday.
He replaces Founder Katrina Lake, who returned to the top post in January with plans to stay in the role for six months. She remains on the board as executive chair, per a company press release.
Baer oversaw digital growth strategies at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, as well as programs to deepen customer relationships at Macy’s. His initiatives included Macy’s third-party marketplace, media network and livestream shopping. Previously, he was vice president of e-commerce at Walmart.com. Baer got his start in retail at the family business, Baers Furniture, per his LinkedIn page.
With low- and middle-income consumers under pressure and amid questions surrounding Stitch Fix’s styling-based model, the online apparel box retailer faces an uncertain future.
Earlier this year, Lake returned to helm the company in the interim upon the abrupt departure of Elizabeth Spaulding. In a quest for growth, Spaulding had created a purchasing option that allowed Stitch Fix customers to buy directly from its site, a move that disrupted its original model. In the past several months the company has walked that back, restoring an emphasis on its stylist-led box service and focusing on profitability over growth.
Under Lake’s second tenure this year, the company has slashed expenses through layoffs and the closure of distribution centers, and is exploring whether to exit the U.K.
William Blair analysts said they anticipate Stitch Fix under Baer to continue to operate as a smaller business “more focused on its profitable core customer with lower levels of marketing spend.”
“Baer’s background seems well rooted in the online customer engagement space, where we feel is an important background for this role,” they said.
Wedbush analysts led by Tom Nikic called out his experience at Walmart.com, noting that Stitch Fix enjoyed “some of [its] brightest days” when former Walmart.com executive Mike Smith was COO, but said that “Baer certainly has his work cut out for him.”
“We actually think it was a wise move to hire an executive with experience in the apparel industry, as it is becoming increasingly clear that selling clothes online isn’t as easy a task as it once seemed,” Nikic said.
Top of the agenda will be to “stop the customer attrition and the double-digit revenue declines,” Nikic said. In Stitch Fix’s most recent quarter, net revenue fell 20% year over year to $395 million, as its number of active clients fell 11% to 3.48 million. Net revenue per active client fell 9% to $502. Net loss narrowed to $21.8 million from last year’s $78 million net loss.
“He is a bit of an unknown quantity to us, but it doesn't seem like a bad hire at first glance,” Nikic also said.