NEW YORK — Mark Weikel will join Lord & Taylor on April 9 as chief operating officer, serving as second-in-command and reporting to Jane Elfers, president and chief executive officer.
Weikel is currently president and chief operating officer of Victoria's Secret Stores, which four years ago recruited him away from May Department Stores in a hard-fought battle over noncompete issues.
At Lord & Taylor, Weikel will be responsible for finance, operations, merchandise planning, stores, information technology and human resources. He will be critical in supporting Lord & Taylor's agenda under its new owner, NRDC Equity Partners, particularly the capital improvements expected at key stores, technology implementations for better merchandise planning and allocation, and customer clienteling. In an interview, Elfers said the 47-unit Lord & Taylor is intent on developing a stronger selling culture.
Lord & Taylor's chief operating slot had been vacant since October 2005, when Richard Clausing left the company. Since then, Elfers has been doubling as ceo and chief operating officer. Once Weikel is on board, Elfers will be able to devote more time wearing her merchant's hat and working on the company's branding campaign for fall and merchandise upgrades, which have been ongoing for four years.
"We are rolling out a lot of initiatives here. Mark will be very important to us," said Elfers. "I have known Mark for many years. His extensive experience in all facets of operations and his strong leadership abilities will be a tremendous asset as we partner to move Lord & Taylor forward."
She also noted that since Lord & Taylor became a standalone retail operation after being acquired by NRDC for $1.1 billion from Federated Department Stores in 2006, it needed some additional hands. Federated inherited Lord & Taylor through its purchase of May in 2005.
While a win for Lord & Taylor, Weikel's move is a blow to Victoria's Secret, which just two months ago elevated him to president and chief operating officer of Victoria's Secret Stores. Before, he held only the latter post.
Jerry Stritzke, chief operating officer of the Victoria's Secret group, which includes the stores, catalogue and Internet, will assume Weikel's responsibilities.In 2003, Limited Brands, parent of Victoria's Secret, engaged in a legal battle over Weikel with the former May. The department store retailer attempted to prevent Weikel, former chairman of its Foley's division, from joining Victoria's Secret Stores on the grounds he was violating a noncompete clause in his contract. But Limited sued May in retaliation and won the case. The court ruled Victoria's Secret and May were not competitors and that Weikel didn't breach his contract.
Now with his sudden departure, the lingerie chain must again reorganize its ranks. Just two months ago, the retailer underwent a restructuring due to the departure of Grace Nichols, who was president and ceo, resulting in Weikel stepping up as part of a co-leadership structure, with Lori Greeley also stepping up as ceo.
Lord & Taylor has been bringing a lot of talent in recently, including advertising guru David Lipman and BrandBuzz, the research and branding arm of Young & Rubicam, to create a fall campaign. Randall Ridless will collaborate with the Mancini Duffy architectural and design firm to revamp Lord & Taylor units.
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