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John Auerbach Exits as President of Park & Bond

The departure is part of a restructuring that included layoffs of 80 to 90 employees at Gilt Groupe last week.

John Auerbach has exited as president of Park & Bond, the full-price men’s site launched by Gilt Groupe last August.

This story first appeared in the January 24, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The departure comes amid a restructuring that included layoffs of 80 to 90 employees at the company on Friday, which represented about 10 percent of the total workforce. Auerbach was considering leaving the position for several months prior to the layoffs, said a source.

Chris Ventry, general manager of the Gilt Man off-price division, has added the role of acting general manager of Park & Bond to his duties.

Also exiting Gilt Groupe is Nathan Richardson, president of Gilt City, which offers daily dining, entertainment and lifestyle deals in 13 cities around the country. That division bore the brunt of the cutbacks, along with Gilt Taste, a food and wine site. The company shuttered six Gilt City offices in underperforming markets — Philadelphia, San Diego, Houston, Seattle, Atlanta and Dallas — and will service them from a centralized sales force.

“We have not been as successful in smaller markets, and the resources they require take away from growing our core business,” said the company in a statement to WWD. Offices for Gilt City remain in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Miami and Washington, D.C.

The turmoil comes as Gilt Groupe gears up for a potential initial public offering at the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013. “The company is not yet profitable, and investors will be taking a very close look at each of the company’s businesses and will be asking a lot of questions, so Gilt needed to clean things up,” said an analyst who covers specialty retail at a major investment bank.

Gilt Groupe chief executive officer Kevin Ryan is aiming to steer the company into the black by the fourth quarter of this year. “By realigning costs at our younger businesses, we are giving them time to succeed. The efficiencies we gain from the restructuring will keep us on track to meet our goal of profitability by year-end. December 2011 was our best month ever, in revenues and bottom line,” said a spokesman.

Total fiscal 2011 sales were $500 million.

Both Auerbach and Richardson will remain with Gilt Groupe during a transition period. “Building Gilt Man and Park & Bond over the past four years has been an incredible experience,” said Auerbach. “I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished and extremely grateful for the experience. As hard as this decision was for me to make, I’m looking forward to taking the next step as soon as the transition here is complete.”

Auerbach was the fifth employee hired by Gilt Groupe when it launched in 2007. His roles at the company have included director of finance, director of men’s, divisional merchandise manager of Gilt Man and general manager of Gilt Man.

Key employees at Park & Bond who remain with the organization include divisional merchandise manager Brooke Cundiff, head of editorial and creative Tyler Thoreson, head of business operations Brian Shaw and style director Josh Peskowitz. The site sells a wide range of designer and contemporary brands. It made a splash by collaborating with GQ on a glitzy pop-up shop in New York’s Meatpacking District during the holiday season and it also sponsored the Thom Browne men’s show in Paris on Sunday.