By  on September 30, 2008

NEW YORK — Mothers Work Inc. said Monday that Dan Matthias, who in 1982 cofounded the business with his wife, Rebecca, is retiring as chief executive officer today. Matthias, who is also the company’s chairman, will continue to serve as a director of Mothers Work and as nonexecutive chairman of the board. He will remain available to management in an advisory capacity through September 2012.

Matthias, who will be 65 years old on Oct. 5, will be succeeded on Wednesday by Edward “Ed” Krell, chief operating officer of Mothers Work. Rebecca Matthias, president and chief creative officer, will continue in those roles and will report to Krell.

The 45-year-old Krell joined Mothers Work in 2002 as senior vice president and chief financial officer. The following year, he was promoted to executive vice president and cfo. In 2007, Krell added chief operating officer and cfo. In July, Krell was named chief operating officer of the company.

Mothers Work had a difficult 2007. Sales for the fiscal year declined 3.5 percent to $581.4 million, driven by a 4.8 percent decrease in comparable-store sales.

The company had a net loss of $400,000, or 7 cents a share, in 2007, a significant earnings reduction from fiscal 2006.

Krell was instrumental in the restructuring of Mothers Work brands and store nameplates in July that effectively eliminated the Mimi Maternity moniker. “One reason for the restructuring is to reduce costs in a tough environment,” Matthias said in July. “Doing this will help sales, improve our operations and de-confuse the customer. We were a very confusing company.”

Founded as a catalogue business, Mothers Work has become the world’s largest maternity apparel retailer with more than 1,500 locations under the Motherhood Maternity, Destination Maternity and Pea in the Pod nameplates. Mothers Work produces a line of maternity apparel for Kohl’s and operates leased departments at Sears. In connection with Matthias’ retirement, the company expects to take a pretax charge of about $2.5 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008.

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