PARIS — Gant has named Patrik Söderström chief executive officer effective February 2020, the latest change of the upper ranks of the Stockholm-based apparel company synonymous with an American East Coast-flavor of preppy style.
Part of the Switzerland-based Maus Frères group, alongside Lacoste, Aigle and The Kooples, Gant has been run by Brian Grevy since last year.
Söderström, a former Luxottica executive who headed the eyewear giant’s Northern European operations, joined the company in 2016 as global sales director, part of a recruitment drive by then-ceo Patrik Nilsson. Grevy, who will leave the company at the end of January, was also recruited at that time.
Despite its American roots — the label opened its first shirt factory in Connecticut in the late Forties and is credited with spreading the popularity of the button-up shirt — Gant has struggled to expand into the U.S., where distribution is limited mainly to e-commerce, with four full-price stores and two outlets.
A few years ago, Nilsson embarked on a drive to reintroduce the brand to the U.S., but the efforts failed to ignite and the company has since refocused efforts on other markets abroad, especially in Asia.
Under Grevy’s leadership, the brand eliminated a trio of sublabels, including Gant Originals, concentrating communications around the Grant name.
Marking its 70th anniversary this year, the label launched a campaign called “Seven Decades, Seven Icons” featuring preppy, New England staples over the years: the preppy button-down shirt, the club blazer, the chino pant, the pique polo, the heavy rugger, the varsity jacket and the cable knit.
Grant generated $1 billion in sales in 2014 and is in 70 countries around the world, with the strongest presence in Europe and Asia.
In a statement, Thierry Guilbert, who heads the board of Maus Frères and is ceo of Lacoste, cited Söderström’s role in the commercial development of the brand, as well as his ability to adapt in a fast-moving retail environment.