Mario Grauso is already making his presence known at Holt Renfrew, and he’s not even coming on board until next month.
On Thursday, the Canada-based retailer confirmed a market report that Steven Cook, the company’s chief merchant and senior vice president of buying and merchandising, will leave the company on Friday.
Julija Hunter, divisional vice president of public relations and communications, confirmed Cook’s departure, saying: “After five years with Holt Renfrew, Steven Cook…has decided to step down effective Aug. 26. Steven’s responsibilities as Holt’s chief merchant will be assumed by incoming president, Mario Grauso, who will be taking over leadership of the company in September.”
Sources said a new women’s fashion director from the U.S. is expected to be named shortly. Hunter did not comment further.
Toronto-based Holt Renfrew, which has been facing intensifying competition from Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom in Canada, said on July 21 that Grauso, who had been president of Joe Fresh, would replace Mark Derbyshire as president in September. Derbyshire had helmed the company for seven years.
Holt Renfrew is owned by the Selfridges Group in London. Over the past several years, the retailer has been going through an aggressive $300 million expansion program as it seeks to increase sales to over $1 billion from the estimated $900 million now. Saks and Nordstrom are aggressively expanding their footprint in Canada and Holt needs to heighten its hold on the luxury end of the market if it hopes to compete.
Before joining Joe Fresh, Grauso was president of the Vera Wang Group. He also held senior positions at Céline, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Puig Fashion, the parent company of Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci and Paco Rabanne.
Before joining Holt Renfew in 2011, Cook was vice president and general merchandise manager of apparel and accessories for Sears Canada, according to his LinkedIn page.