Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based Wet Seal LLC said Monday it named one of its board members ceo in a move that brings to a close its transition under new ownership during what has been a rugged past few years for the teen retailer.
The company appointed Melanie B. Cox to succeed Ed Thomas as chief executive, effective immediately.
Thomas returned to the retailer — for a third time — last year and shepherded the company through its Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January and subsequent purchase by private equity firm Versa Capital Management in a deal that closed in the spring.
The company, not unlike many of its competitors in the space, has had a tough go in more recent years winning over teens. Thomas focused on re-working product in stores in a bid to age up a customer base he told WWD earlier this year had begun to skew too young.
“We think over the last four years the company went too young [and] focused on too young of a customer, which is not what it was when I left in early 2011, and so we think that there’s a big opportunity to recapture some of that customer base that we had for a while in the 18 to 24 range,” he said during the interview.
Thomas said in a statement released Monday “I’m glad to have been able to bring Wet Seal back to solid ground after its long period of uncertainty…. Now that the reorganization is behind us, I decided it’s the right time for me to step back after a grueling process and evaluate other opportunities, while being confident that Wet Seal is in Versa and Melanie’s able hands.”
Cox was herself marking a return to the company when she joined the board at the time of the Versa acquisition.
She worked as a merchant and head of product development when Wet Seal was still a regional chain with 11 stores. She went on to serve as chief merchandising manager at Urban Outfitters, Contempo Casuals and The Clothestime. She also worked at Scoop NYC and Gymboree Corp.