Don Watros has stepped down as president of HBC International, effective Sept. 29.
He has been with HBC for 11 years and has seen the company through major growth initiatives. He was named president, HBC International in January 2015, earlier served as president of HBC and before that was chief operating officer of the company. Previously, he was managing director of retail operations at NRDC Equity Partners during the acquisitions of Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay Co. Earlier, he had been chief administrative officer of Saks Fifth Avenue.
“With a seasoned leadership team in place in Europe and our plans to bring Hudson’s Bay to the Netherlands and Saks Off 5th to Europe coming to fruition, the time is right for me to pursue my next chapter,” said Watros. “I look forward to following the company’s continued growth.”
In April, HBC named Wolfgang Link as ceo of HBC Europe, effective May 1. He was charged with leading the company’s expansion and growth strategy for the European business, including Galeria Kaufhof, Galeria Inno and the entrance of Hudson’s Bay and Saks Off 5th. He also oversees the European management team. At the time, the company reported that Watros would remain head of the Galeria Kaufhof Supervisory Board and would continue to pursue international opportunities in addition to supporting the company’s North American integration and cost saving initiatives.
Richard Baker, governor and executive chairman of HBC, said, “Don has been a great partner in supporting the growth and integration of HBC’s businesses over the years and was instrumental in HBC entering Europe and helping to establish our structure there. We are grateful for his dedication to the company and wish him the best in his next endeavor.”
Jerry Storch, chief executive officer of HBC, added, “We greatly appreciate Don’s contributions to HBC during his long tenure with the company, especially his work to bring HBC to Europe and support the establishment of our office there. I’m pleased that we have a strong team in place to continue to execute on our strategy in Europe, as we invest in Galeria Kaufhof, grow Saks Off 5th in Germany and enter the Netherlands with Hudson’s Bay and Saks Off 5th.
Watros has served as the chairman of the Galeria Kaufhof supervisory board since October 2015. The supervisory board will elect a new chairman at its meeting in October.
When Watros assumed the role of president of HBC in January, 2014, he was referred to as a “secret” weapon behind HBC’s retail conglomerate and a close right-hand man to Baker, working behind the scenes on the acquisitions processes, operations, streamlinings and centralizing back-of-the-house functions. At the time, it was reported that the promotion positioned him to second-in-command, offering him greater visibility going forward, internally and externally.