After rejecting a hostile takeover bid, Gant AB has tapped a new chief executive officer, Dirk-Jan Stoppelenburg.
Stoppelenburg, 40, most recently served as managing director of Tetra Pak Benelux, a firm specializing in carton packaging for the food industry, where he has worked for the last decade. Stoppelenburg replaces Arthur Engel, who resigned after serving as Gant’s ceo for eight years.
Gant shareholders this month rejected a takeover by Lacoste’s Swiss parent company, Maus Frères SA, which had bid 5.2 billion Swedish kronor, or $810.2 million. Maus, Switzerland’s largest privately held retail group, bought 12.5 percent of Gant on Dec. 11 and the next day made the cash bid for the rest of the company. Maus’ offer is good through Jan. 11 and required approval by at least half of Gant’s shareholders. But more than 55 percent voted against it.
Swedish entrepreneurs Lennart Björk, Klaus Käll and Staffan Wittmark are Gant’s three main shareholders, with about 37 percent of the company split among them.
The Swedish sportswear brand, known for its preppy styles, operates 310 stores. Though men’s makes up three-fourths of its sales, Gant’s women’s business is growing and includes the preppy GNH line, the sophisticated Elliot Gant collection and the Rugger contemporary label.
For the first nine months of 2007, Gant’s net profit increased 18 percent to 175 million Swedish kronor, or $27.3 million, on brand sales of 5.85 billion Swedish kronor, or $912.1 million, up 14 percent.
“I am genuinely looking forward to leading Gant’s future development with sights set on continued accelerated growth and profitability,” Stoppelenburg said in a statement. “With my experience of international business, I hope that I can make a positive contribution to the strong organization together with existing partners.”
A Dutchman who speaks Swedish, Stoppelenburg will be based in Stockholm. He will assume his new role no later than July 1. Meanwhile, Gant’s chief financial officer, Henrik Fredin, will function as acting ceo.
“With his knowledge and international experience, Dirk-Jan Stoppelenburg was an obvious choice,” Björk, chairman of the board of Gant, said in a statement. “He will join what is already an extremely solid management team, which was recently strengthened by the addition of Brian Rennie as design director, with 20 years of experience from the international fashion market.”