Carlos Alberini has stepped down as president and chief operating officer of Guess Inc., the Los Angeles retailer and wholesaler, to become co-chief executive officer of Restoration Hardware, effective June 1.

This story first appeared in the May 5, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Alberini, 54, has been at Guess since December 2000 and has agreed to remain on the board at Guess for two more years.

“I had a dream of being ceo of a company,” Alberini told WWD. He said when the Restoration Hardware position presented itself, “I decided to pursue that opportunity.”

Paul Marciano, ceo and vice chairman of Guess, the $2.13 billion diversified apparel company, said, “During his tenure with us, Carlos has made significant contributions to the growth and success of our company.…We completely support his new role in this great opportunity.”

At Restoration Hardware, Alberini, who has also been named a director, will report to chairman Gary Friedman, 52, who is currently the sole ceo. With this new appointment, Friedman and Alberini will become co-ceo’s. Friedman will lead the firm’s creative, merchandising and marketing functions, and Alberini will manage operations, finance, supply chain, inventory, information technology, stores and human resources.

“These are exciting times for Restoration Hardware, and this appointment reflects the strong performance we are experiencing as well as the significant growth potential we see before us,” said Friedman.

Restoration Hardware, which is based in Corte Madera, Calif., is owned by an investment group led by Catterton Partners, Tower Three Partners and includes Glenhill Capital and Friedman. In 2007, Catterton Partners acquired Restoration Hardware in a deal worth about $267 million. The privately held retailer, which has struggled along with the housing market, operates more than 100 retail and outlet stores in the U.S. and Canada, as well as stand-alone catalogues and e-commerce sites.

During his decade at Guess, Alberini was instrumental in transforming its focus from a wholesale-centric to retail-driven company and expanding its international presence. Today, Guess operates 432 stores in the U.S. and Canada, and 778 stores outside of North America. Alberini helped expand the company’s market value from $200 million to more than $4 billion.

When he joined Guess in December 2000, “the company was one-third the size it is today,” he said. In 2001, Guess’ earnings and revenues were deteriorating, its wholesale division was unprofitable and the brand had lost fashion relevance. Company earnings were $6.2 million on net revenues of $677.6 million in 2001.

“We went through some very challenging times. There was one year [2002] we didn’t make any money. We increased the profitability of the company in a very significant way,” said Alberini.

Over the last seven years, Guess’ revenues have increased at a compound growth rate of 22 percent, and earnings have risen at a compounded growth rate of 59 percent, he said. During last year’s recession, the company had record earnings and revenues. For the year ended Jan. 30, Guess achieved net income of $246.3 million compared with profits of $215 million in 2008. Revenues were $2.13 billion, up from $2.09 billion.

Alberini said his most significant accomplishment was working together and assembling a team “in both good times and challenging times.”

Marciano has embarked on a search for a new chief operating officer, as well as a president of the Americas.

Before joining Guess, Alberini was senior vice president and chief financial officer of Footstar, from 1996 to 2000. Earlier, he was vice president and acting cfo of the Melville Corp. and served as corporate controller and senior vice president and chief financial officer and treasurer of The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. A native of Argentina, Alberini began his career at Price Waterhouse, where he spent 10 years.

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