The Warnaco Group Inc. is eyeing acquisition targets, and a new chief executive officer will lead the effort.
Warnaco on Tuesday named Helen McCluskey president and chief executive officer, effective Feb. 1. McCluskey, 56, succeeds Joe Gromek, 65, who will retire. She is currently chief operating officer, a post she was promoted to in October 2010. Gromek joined Warnaco as president and ceo in 2003.
McCluskey said, “I look forward to working together with our team to build on the strong foundation we have in place as we pursue our strategic goals and next phase of growth.”
Gromek said, “For me, it has been an extraordinary and rewarding experience to lead this company over the past nine years, and while I am deeply proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved, the one I am most proud of is the team we have built.”
Charles R. Perrin, Warnaco’s nonexecutive chairman, said, “Since Helen’s arrival, she has impressed the board, customers and colleagues alike, and she has demonstrated leadership qualities that we believe will ensure Warnaco’s continued success.”
Gromek said in a telephone interview, “I turned 65 this past September. I signed a three-year contract with Warnaco that expired in March 2011. We extended it for one year. Based on some macro-economic factors and the global recession, it made sense to stay for another year.”
He said the board’s due diligence process, with external assistance, resulted in unanimous support for McCluskey as the next ceo.
As for Gromek’s plans, he said: “I sit on the Wolverine Worldwide and Children’s Place boards. I see myself doing some consulting. My wife and I are heavily involved in philanthropic work involving health care, education and kids.…This is a good time to give back.”
Perrin noted, “Under Joe’s leadership, Warnaco has thrived, refining its portfolio of brands, expanding its retail operations to a current 1,500 points of distribution and growing its international presence, now accounting for 60 percent of annual revenue.…Warnaco’s share price has risen by more than 500 percent since he joined the company.”
McCluskey in the same telephone interview noted that the company now has a solid footing and foundation base compared to when Gromek joined the firm in 2003.
As for the future, McCluskey essentially said there would be no major changes, although one might see a shift in focus more towards the consumer even though the “wholesale business continues to be a big business” due to the consumers it targets. That shift will likely mean a greater focus on direct-to-consumer, which is driving Warnaco’s retail business.
At the third-quarter conference to Wall Street, Gromek said to analysts, “Asia and Latin America continue to lead the growth.”
Gromek also told analysts that Warnaco’s business in China, “approaching $200 million by yearend, remains a dynamic growth vehicle as we aggressively expand our direct-to-consumer penetration.”
Retail revenues overall rose 30.5 percent in the quarter, to $186.2 million, with comparable-store sales up 2 percent. “Direct-to-consumer revenues now represent 29 percent of total company sales and we expect that percentage to climb significantly in the fourth quarter,” Gromek noted.
McCluskey also said that one opportunity for Warnaco is to engage the female customer more to build its women’s business. “It’s an enormous opportunity as our women’s business is not as developed as our men’s business,” she said.
While McCluskey isn’t ruling out opportunities for acquisitions, the focus initially will be on growing market share in the geographies where the company already has an existing business. She disclosed that there is a short list of possible targeted firms that Warnaco is eyeing. They’re not necessarily women’s businesses, but more global lifestyle brands that have dual gender businesses, which fits better into Warnaco’s strategy, the future ceo said.
As for consistent on-again-off-again rumblings in the marketplace and on Wall Street about discussions regarding a merger between Warnaco and PVH Corp., Gromek said emphatically, “That is a board question.”
The outgoing ceo emphasized that, based on Warnaco’s ambitious strategic plan today, “There is tremendous potential opportunity to grow shareholder value as an independent company.”
According to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, McCluskey inked an employment agreement effective Feb. 1 for her new role at Warnaco. The filing listed an “annual base salary of $1 million and an annual target bonus opportunity of 110 percent of her annual base salary.” In addition to other awards, she is also bound by a “perpetual confidentiality covenant, a 12-month post-termination noncompete,”
McCluskey joined Warnaco in 2004 as group president, intimate apparel. In June 2007, she was given the added responsibility of global oversight for the firm’s swimwear brands. When McCluskey became chief operating officer, she added to her responsibilities oversight of the Calvin Klein Jeans and Chaps brands, as well as all of the firm’s international businesses and its global supply chain and sourcing operations.
Prior to joining Warnaco, she was group president of the moderate women’s sportswear division at Liz Claiborne. Before that, she was at Sara Lee for 18 years in the firm’s intimate apparel units, serving as president of Playtex Apparel from 1999 to 2001.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye