- Leah Swan, chief operating officer of The Children's Place, is set to retire June 1, the company said in a securities filing.
- The retailer does not plan "at this time" to fill the COO role once Swan departs, it said.
- Swan joined the company in 2016 after previously holding executive roles at Ross Stores and Gap Inc.
The Children's Place has gone through several evolutions since Swan joined some six years ago.
The year following her arrival brought the (first) bankruptcy of one of the retailer's closest competitors, Gymboree. The stumble by that children's clothing specialist highlighted what Children's Place was doing right — strategically paring its footprint, investing in its supply chain and focusing on digital growth.
But the pandemic hit Children's Place especially hard financially and operationally. Apparel in general absorbed large sales losses in 2020. Children's apparel was particularly affected by school closures and a focus on remote learning along with temporary store closures. By last fall, however, financial health scores from RapidRatings showed a strong rebound at Children's Place.
The company's sales last year not only bounced back from 2020 but surpassed 2019's sales as well. CEO Jane Elfers told analysts earlier this year that the pandemic has accelerated the company's long-running digital transformation.
"[W]ith the pandemic-driven acceleration of our digital business, we continue to gain additional leverage on fixed overhead costs, and drive significantly higher digital margins," Elfers said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. The chief added that Children's Place's digital sales in the fourth quarter were an "industry-leading" 48% of total sales, compared to 31% in 2019.
As Children's Place continues working toward becoming a digital-first retailer, it will be doing so without a designated COO. According to the company's site, Swan currently oversees IT, logistics, store operations, real estate, legal and other areas, including social and environmental responsibility.
The company did not immediately reply to a request for comment on how Swan's responsibilities would be distributed or why it isn't refilling the COO role.