Paula Schneider’s trying to move American Apparel Inc. beyond Dov Charney.
The chief executive officer held a call with Wall Street Tuesday to both introduce herself and frame her leadership of the company.
“The purpose of this call is not to discuss previous management, but to talk about the future and how we can help the company grow,” said Schneider, who took the helm this month.
That’s a reference to founder Charney, who was ousted as ceo last year amid allegations of misconduct. Charney is threatening legal action over his firing and still trying to regain a toehold at the firm.
While Schneider tried to mark a clean break from Charney’s leadership, she also lauded many aspects of what he built.
“American Apparel is one of the most recognizable brands in the world,” she said in a late afternoon conference call with analysts.
To capitalize on that recognition, the company will base its strategy going forward on four priorities.
First, Schneider said she would look to firm up operations with strong business fundamentals, pointing specifically to planning and forecasting, product development, the rationalization of stockkeeping units, marketing, sales and the supply chain.
Secondly, the ceo plans to invest in the brand. “It’s an incredible brand,” she said. “It’s about fun. It’s about youth. It’s about freedom. It always has been and always will be about social commentary. This brand gives a voice to everyone, from the 5,000 workers in our L.A. factory to all the people who wear our clothes. To me, it’s a call to action.”
The hope is that improvement in those two areas will lead to improvements in the other two areas: driving earnings and building a strong liquidity profile.
“Many of the short-term challenges say less about the underlying strength of the brand and more about the lack of strong fundamentals,” she said.
The question is whether Schneider will have a chance to see her plan through or if the company’s backers and board will decide to sell. John Howard’s Irving Place Capital last year said it might pay as much as $1.40 a share, or $245 million, to buy the company, once it got a look at its private books.
Investors are taking the cautious approach. Shares of the firm inched up 1.3 percent to 87 cents before the call on Tuesday.