Barbara Cook will join Hudson Jeans on Friday in the new post of president as the premium jeanswear company sets its sights on the $100 million volume mark in its 11th year in business.
This story first appeared in the February 27, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Cook, a veteran of Gap Inc. and Starbucks, who resigned earlier this month as senior vice president of store operations for The Wet Seal Inc., will report to Peter Kim, founder and chief executive officer of the Commerce, Calif.-based company, and oversee all of the company’s day-to-day operations.
Despite Cook’s extensive résumé in retailing, Kim told WWD that her appointment doesn’t presage an immediate move into retail by the company.
“We’ve been thinking about retail for a long time, but I wouldn’t say it’s our top priority right now,” he commented. “We’ve had tremendous growth in a number of areas — men’s, international and e-commerce among them — but there’s still a lot of room for expansion and we need a great operator like Barbara, who can help us make sure that the nuts and bolts of our infrastructure are where they need to be.”
He noted that men’s, currently about 15 percent of sales, could “easily be 20 to 30 percent on top of a growing women’s business.” On the international front, Hudson has a presence in 40 countries, including much of southern and western Europe as well as China and South Korea, “and many of these are new territories — as in within the past six months — where Barbara can be an enormous help.” E-commerce is two years old and growing rapidly, he said, “but still a small part of the business dollar and percentagewise.”
Before joining Wet Seal in 2011, Cook spent six years at Gap Inc., most recently as senior vice president of stores and operations for the Gap unit and earlier as managing director in Europe. She was personally involved in the relaunch of Gap 1969 Jeans.
Earlier in her career, she served as managing director of T-Mobile’s retail division in the U.K. and as regional general manager of Starbucks in the British market, where she was involved in the company’s rollout in the U.K.
Kim said that Cook’s addition will allow him more time to establish the company’s strategic direction and vision for the future and focus on branding and messaging.
Kim said that Hudson, which counts about 700 specialty stores on its client roster, reached about $90 million in sales last year and expects to net more than $100 million in the new year. After testing the waters for possible investors beginning in 2011, the company has moved forward with stakes held by Fireman Capital Partners and Webster Capital. “We hired a banker to explore our options and are now proceeding with the same ownership structure,” he said. “Our investors aren’t just trying to maximize EBITDA, as important as that may be, but actively working to invest in the business where our expansion requires it.”