Nordstrom Inc. has named Geevy Thomas to the new position of chief innovation officer, among a string of high-level changes revealed today.
Succeeding Thomas as president of Nordstrom Rack is Karen McKibbin, who led Nordstrom’s expansion into Canada over the past couple of years.
In addition, Terry Boyle has become president of Nordstrom-owned Trunk Club, the upscale men’s wear web site with showrooms and stylists. Boyle succeeds Brian Spaly who, according to the company, has chosen to depart. Boyle continues as president of nordstromrack.com/hautelook.
“Our new chief innovation officer and his team will lead the most forward-looking customer-centric effort that Nordstrom has taken on to date,” said Erik Nordstrom, copresident of the retailer. “Our business was founded and built over the years through our full-line stores, and today they still represent the largest portion of our sales volume.
“However, the way customers are choosing to shop in a more digitally connected world continues to change, and we know we need to find ways for our stores to evolve with them. This is a challenge, but we also see a tremendous opportunity to leverage our stores in ways that will allow us to serve customers into the future better than anyone else.”
Recently, other retailers have designated executives as chief innovation officers or in roles with similar missions but different titles. For example, in December, the Hudson’s Bay Co., hired Ed Burstell as head of partnerships, to bring differentiated merchandise and formats to all HBC divisions. Earlier last year, Justin MacFarlane joined Macy’s in the new role of chief strategy, analytics and innovation officer, with responsibility for strategic development, consumer and customer research, data analysis, innovation and development of business opportunities.
Nordstrom’s innovation team, said Nordstrom, “will be tasked with helping the company ideate how its full-line stores of the future will better serve customers through further integration of digital and mobile….We’re looking to answer big questions and to get there, we’re giving our Nordstrom innovation team the ability to move quickly and boldly to find solutions for the stores of tomorrow right out of the gate today. Creating a fully separate team will help remove restrictions or boundaries around what’s possible for the innovation team to test and try.”
Thomas, a 34-year veteran of Nordstrom, started his career as a salesperson and moved into store, regional and buying management roles before becoming president of Nordstrom Rack.
McKibbin will oversee the 215 Rack stores, including operations, merchandising, strategy, finance and store planning. McKibbin began at Nordstrom in 1985 as a stockperson, rose to store and regional jobs around the country, until becoming the company’s first president of Nordstrom Canada in 2012. She led the opening of five of the company’s six planned full-line stores in Canada.
“Karen was instrumental in building an infrastructure that allowed us to enter the Canadian market, first with full-line stores and soon with Nordstrom Racks to come,” said copresident Blake Nordstrom. “The entrepreneurial spirit, flexibility and creativity that she brought into that role will [also] serve us well in the Rack.”
At Trunk Club, which hasn’t delivered the results Nordstrom hoped for, “We’re moving into an exciting next phase,” Erik Nordstrom said. “Terry comes into this role with a tremendous amount of knowledge about Trunk Club, having served on its advisory board since it was acquired by Nordstrom in 2014. His unique track record in taking start-up businesses, building them to scale and supporting their growth, both in and outside of Nordstrom, will enable him to support Trunk Club and the leadership team there during this critical time for that business.”
Nordstrom’s third-quarter results included a non-cash goodwill impairment of $197 million related to Trunk Club, and Blake Nordstrom said in a conference call at the time that Trunk Club “has not performed to the expectations we had when we acquired it,” though he added the company remains committed to the strategy.
Boyle, a veteran of consumer technology start-ups, joined HauteLook in 2008 and was instrumental in the company’s growth and integration into Nordstrom, which bought the business in 2011. Boyle also led the design and launch of nordstromrack.com in May 2014.
Trunk Club has made other leadership changes. Linda Bartman recently joined as chief marketing officer and Michael Barkin was recently promoted to Senior Vice President of Sales.