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Syms Taps Somerfeld

Syms has named Jason Somerfeld to the new position of senior vicepresident and general merchandise manager.

Syms named Jason Somerfeld to the new position of senior vice president and general merchandise manager on Thursday to oversee merchandising for Syms, Filene’s Basement and the cobranded Syms Clothing/Filene’s Basement stores.

Somerfeld will seek to enhance European offerings and expand the West Coast vendor mix of contemporary brands, the company said.

He said the “model” that has been created at Syms “has so many things working for it,” and he will try to “tweak it and make it better.”

Somerfeld, former svp of branding and fashion direction at Burlington Coat Factory, will report to Joel Feigenbaum, who was appointed in March as chief integration officer, and will be based at Syms’ corporate headquarters in Secaucus, N.J. He starts Monday.

“Our mission is to offer the absolutely best off-price in-store experience in America,” chairman and chief executive officer Marcy Syms said. “How do we make that happen? It starts with product.”

At Burlington Coat, Somerfeld was credited with reshaping the company’s image at its 400-plus stores and adding contemporary men’s and women’s wear. He also developed a solid foundation of West Coast resources.

Somerfeld, who began his career at the Saks Fifth Avenue Executive Training Program, had been a senior buyer for the Searle stores, and was vice president and gmm of Cohoes, a Burlington Coat Factory division.

There are three cobranded Syms/Filene’s stores in Connecticut and Massachusetts and two more are slated to make their debuts this fall, in Westchester County, N.Y., and Westbury, N.Y., the chairman and ceo said. Ultimately, the company will be one-third Syms stores, one-third Filene’s Basements and one-third cobranded.

“As we look at each location and the demographics, we will identify which [nameplate] should remain,” she said.

Filene’s Basement tends to concentrate more on women’s designer fashion, particularly in its FB Vault area, which offers “European designer names at crazy prices,” Syms said. That will continue. And Syms, which focuses more on men’s tailored clothing and bridge offerings, also will retain that emphasis.