Stein Mart

Dawn Robertson has resigned as Stein Mart Inc.’s chief executive officer, chief merchandising officer and director effective immediately. Robertson has only been in the role since March.

This story first appeared in the September 30, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

She has 25 years of executive retail experience from companies like Deb Shops and The Avenue. Robertson had a reputation of taking on stores in need of a turnaround like Deb Stores and served as president at Old Navy for a time.

Stein Mart’s president and chief operating officer D. Hunt Hawkins has been named interim ceo. He has been at the company since 1994, where he started his career there in the human resources department. Stein Mart has said it will begin searching for a new chief merchandising officer.

“Some of the sales initiatives that have been developed under Dawn’s leadership are important for our future and we will continue to cultivate them to drive sales in this challenging retail environment,” said Jay Stein, chairman of the board. “Hunt has been a valued leader at Stein Mart for over 20 years. The board and I are confident in his ability to guide our associates and to continue implementing our strong sales strategies.”

Stein Mart also gave a preview of its comparable-store sales for the third quarter, saying they had decreased about 4 percent through September 27 compared to last year. With sales lower than expected, the third quarter will take a hit on the gross profit rate. The company will also take a $1.6 million charge related to Robertson’s departure.

Robertson tried to shift the company away from newspaper advertising towards other forms of newer media in an attempt to increase store traffic. She was also striving to being in a younger, more modern customer. Robertson had planned to improve the retailer’s omnichannel opportunities, social media marketing and mobile site functions.

In early morning trading, Stein Mart’s shares fell 11.1 percent to $6.70.