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LONDON — The British fashion retailer All Saints is on the prowl for a new chief executive officer from outside the company after Stephen Craig abruptly stepped down Monday.
This story first appeared in the September 27, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Craig, who helped find new majority investors earlier this year after All Saints’ main backer, the Icelandic bank Kaupthing, collapsed, said he had no choice but to resign his post. “The current leadership structure is untenable given the lack of clarity of roles between the chairman, Kevin Stanford, and me and, as such, I now believe it is the right time for me to explore other more entrepreneurial opportunities,” he said.
Lyndon Lea, a co-founder of Lion Capital, which purchased All Saints along with Goode Partners, said it was a sad day for him. “I get along with them both. But it was like one of those marriages that ends after so much time spent in the trenches,” he said in a telephone interview. “They have not been happy working together since the sale.”
Craig had been with the company since 2006, and had helped to boost turnover to 300 million pounds, or $465 million, from 14 million pounds, or $21.7 million. All figures have been converted at current exchange.
All Saints said Craig would be succeeded temporarily by Peter Wood, who is currently chief financial officer.
Lea called All Saints a “special, design-led business,” and said the stores could easily be rolled out and replicated. “We don’t have much presence in Asia and the Far East, and I think there is so much potential there. This could be a worldwide brand,” he said.
Lion and Goode injected 105 million pounds, or $162.8 million, into the company when they purchased it in early May. “I think the real myth of All Saints is the state the brand was in at the time of the sale. It was a success despite the problems with its capital structure,” Lea said.
Although the business risked filing for bankruptcy, Lea said it had never stopped growing. “Yes, it could have been growing more profitably — we were touching on 70 percent margins. It was very resilient.”
Lion Capital’s other investments include American Apparel, La Senza lingerie and Bumble Bee Foods.