Three months after VF Corp. acquired Lucy Activewear, the brand's chief executive officer, Mike Edwards, is leaving the firm.
Edwards joined Lucy as CEO in 2004 and turned it around from a bust Internet site to a $57 million vertically integrated firm with 50 stores. Edwards' exit, which he said is due to personal reasons, is an anomaly at VF, which prides itself on retaining the leadership teams and culture of brands it acquires.
"I think every good leader has to know when to get out of the way," Edwards said. "I did my part in growing and protecting it and handing it off to an amazing partner. Now I am excited to pass it to a new leader with new skills. It was quite important to me that VF could pick it up and take it to the next level."
After taking the holidays off to spend with his family, Edwards said he plans to look for a job in consumer products with the entrepreneurial freedom he had at Lucy. "I am and always will be an entrepreneur and I enjoy my personal independence," he said.
Before Lucy, Edwards served as executive vice president of operations for Jo-Ann Stores, a $2 billion fabric and craft retailer with 900 stores, from 2001 to 2004. From 1999 to 2001, Edwards was executive vice president of merchandising and chief marketing officer at boating supplies specialty retailer West Marine Inc., as well as director and chairman of the board of mobile technology products parts provider iGo Corp. In his early career, he worked at CompUSA, Target and May Co.
Edwards, whose last day was Friday, said he gave Eric Wiseman, VF's president and chief operating officer and future ceo, his resignation at the beginning of October. Last week, at WWD's CEO Summit, VF ceo Mackey McDonald, a keynote speaker, introduced Edwards to the audience and complimented him on the great job he's done at Lucy.
"Mike Edwards indicated that he is interested in pursuing other opportunities and we wish him the very best in his pursuits," Wiseman said in an e-mail.
In August, VF bought Lucy for $110 million, predicting it could grow to at least a $350 million business by opening at least 20 stores a year for the next 10 years. At the time of the acquisition, VF said it intended to keep the management in place.The Greensboro, N.C.-based apparel giant inked the deal to acquire Lucy the same day it bought Seven For All Mankind for an estimated $775 million, and the two acquisitions created the foundation for the new VF Contemporary Brands division. Edwards reported to Mike Egeck, ceo of Seven For All Mankind and a former VF executive who was named president of VF Contemporary Brands.
Michelle Lantow, chief financial officer for Lucy, will serve as interim president while VF searches for a successor.
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