BOSTON — With its losses narrowed and $10 million worth of stock available to reward key executives, Kmart has begun cherry-picking talent to fill top roles.
The Troy, Mich.-based discounter said Tuesday it has hired former Gap veteran Lisa Schultz as chief creative officer, a new position reporting to president and chief executive Julian Day.
Schultz is expected to work closely with a chief merchant, a position the discounter has been working for months to fill.
In a 14-year stint at Gap Inc., Schultz became head of global product development and design for the Gap brand. She left the company in 2001, during an exodus of high-level executives, and has since worked as an independent consultant.
Two other newly appointed executives, Bruce Johnson and Janet Kelly, will also report to Day.
Johnson starts in October as senior vice president of supply chain and operations, the same position he held with Paris-based mass retailer Carrefour SA. Kelly, formerly executive vice president of corporate development with Kellogg Co., starts today as chief administrative officer, focused on human resources and corporate governance.
Tierney Remick, managing director of Korn/Ferry International’s retail and consumer products practice, said Day —whose forte is financial guidance — is choosing talent “with different skills from his [that is] not necessarily coming out of the same environment.”
Kmart’s makeover is a “big task,” she continued. “There are plenty of people wondering [that], if we have a Target and a Wal-Mart, [whether] we need a Kmart. This is his opportunity to pick people, who are strong in their own right, who can say, ‘Yes, we do.’”
Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies for Kurt Salmon Associates, said the appointments were “a real necessity” and might signal a welcome culture shift for Kmart.
“If this means they are going to encourage a primary focus on developing a relevant merchandise assortment, then I think it’s a very strong first step,” he said.
Schultz, who starts next week, was unavailable for comment. In a statement, Day said her “vision and leadership” are “necessary for Kmart to move competitively into the future.”Industry analysts said having worked under Millard “Mickey” Drexler during Gap’s heyday, Schultz brings strong product development credentials.
“Clearly, she came up in a very product-centric environment,” observed Remick. “Kmart is likely looking for a certain taste level that it hopes she is going to provide.”
The move to redraw chief sourcing and product development roles — coupled with Kmarts focus on building exclusive, lifestyle brands — could indicate the discounter is taking a page from competitor Target’s book.
Regardless, execution remains “the big challenge,” Aronson noted. “Kmart has a very sensitive timeline in which to make progress. I would give [executives]credit for a strong first step, to get the people in place. Now, they’ve got to give these people running room.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast