Bonobos has a new chief executive officer — again.
Less than three months after Francine Della Badia was named ceo of the eight-year-old men’s company, as well as its women’s and golf brands Ayr and Maide, respectively, WWD has learned that she is stepping down from her role. Della Badia’s last day was today.
“Both of us were disappointed that this didn’t work the way we thought it might, but we also knew going in that these kinds of transitions lead to another level of discovery,” Della Badia said.
Bonobos founder Andy Dunn confirmed today that he will reassume his role as ceo, about 100 days after giving up the reins to Della Badia. The former Coach executive will remain in an advisory capacity at the company.
After meeting Della Badia five years ago, Dunn said in May that she was the right person to help the e-commerce site become a fully realized retail operation. The brand doubled its Guideshop count over the past year and will have 20 freestanding doors by year’s end, including its first flagship Guideshop that opened in New York City’s Flatiron district in June.
But as soon as Dunn returned from spending the month of July in Asia, he said he realized there is a difference between a founder at the helm and a ceo from the outside — especially when a company is so young. Although Dunn maintained that Della Badia came to him and said he should run the company again, sources close to the company said a seasoned retail executive running an e-commerce based start-up was “a jarring change” for the team.
“She felt it, the team felt it. It wasn’t clicking,” said one source, who requested anonymity. “The team doesn’t want to follow her — that’s not what they want. They will do it but it’s not who they came here for.”
They added that Dunn was burnt out from nearly a decade of running the operation — which grew from selling only men’s pants online to a burgeoning brand that’s carried in every Nordstrom door with a sizable retail presence of its own. Dunn has raised more than $127 million in capital to date.
The changing of the guards was swift and, according to Dunn, all of this movement within the company occurred within the last two weeks. Dunn and Della Badia brought the plan to the board after much internal discussion.
“It is really different [at a start-up]. From a culture standpoint there is a big difference between a company at our stage and some more mature businesses,” he said.
For him, the conversation shifted from bringing in a seasoned retail executive to scale the company to Della Badia and Dunn realizing that there’s still a benefit to having a founder at the head.
“The culture and the team here is a team that I’ve recruited,” Dunn said. “Now she [Fran] can really advise me, she’s seen everything internally.”
One of his first tasks as ceo again is to hire a chief operating officer to spearhead the “day-to-day” of running a retailer while he remains “the keeper of the culture,” he said.