Express Inc. chief executive officer Michael Weiss has set his second retirement date at the company.
Weiss will retire as ceo on Jan. 30. He will continue as non-executive chairman. Succeeding Weiss will be David Kornberg, who will also continue in his role as the firm’s president. Kornberg will join the company’s board upon assuming the role of ceo.
Weiss began his career with Express more than 30 years ago when he joined the eight-store experimental division of Limited Brands in 1980 as its merchandise manager. He became president in 1982, and later ceo. He retired for the first time in 2004, but returned to the company in 2007 when the firm was acquired by private equity firm Golden Gate Capital. He became chairman in 2011.
During his second tour of duty, the retailer has launched its e-commerce platform, opened international franchise locations and entered Canada. It also has opened its first outlet store business.
Weiss said, “It’s been a joy and a privilege to lead this incredible business since its inception 34 years ago.”
He said he was confident that under Kornberg’s leadership the company will evolve into an omnichannel brand. He also noted that since he will continue as chairman, he’ll “continue supporting the execution of the company’s strategic plan.”
Express is the latest company to separate out the positions of ceo and chairman. Tiffany & Co. also is following that trend upon the retirement of ceo Michael J. Kowalski, who will continue as non-executive chairman, come April 1. Earlier this year, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. named Arthur Martinez as its non-executive chairman, while Michael Jeffries remains as ceo. Shortly after his appointment as chairman, Martinez said of the separation of the chairman and ceo roles: “It is a trend, as statistically about 20 to 25 percent of the S&P 500 firms have separated the roles.” He noted that regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank have firms looking more carefully at corporate governance principles today.
Kornberg joined Express in 1999. He was named president in 2012, assuming direction of men’s and women’s merchandising and design and, later, also taking on responsibility for U.S. store operations. He began his career at Marks & Spencer. He briefly left Express in 2002 to serve as vice president of business development for Disney Stores, and returned to the company’s fold in 2003.
Kornberg said of Weiss, “Michael is a legend in this industry and is recognized for his legacy of innovation. His vision, passion and energy have positioned us to thrive in a quickly evolving industry.”
In June, Express became an acquisition target of private equity firm Sycamore Partners. The New York-based private equity firm paid $106.2 million to acquire 8.3 million shares, or a 9.9 percent stake, of the retailer, and informed the company that it would like to acquire the balance of the shares it doesn’t already own. Sycamore’s two key principals are familiar with the teen retailer’s operations. They were at Golden Gate Capital when the San Francisco-based firm acquired its interest in the retailer.
The teen retailer went public in 2010. Neither Golden Gate nor Limited own stakes in Express anymore.
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