Bonobos founder Andy Dunn is stepping aside to make way for Coach veteran Francine Della Badia, who is taking over as chief executive officer of the quickly expanding concept.
Della Badia, who left Coach in February amid a management reshuffle, will move into the corner office on June 1, giving her oversight of Bonobos, Ayr and Maide.
Dunn will become executive chairman at the firm he founded in 2007. “I’m joking that I call it stepping up [instead of stepping down],” Dunn told WWD Wednesday. “It felt like an ascension.”
Della Badia brings a long track record and experience running an operation much larger than Bonobos. She spent 16 years at Coach, where she served most recently as president of North American retail. Prior to that she worked at Victoria’s Secret, J. Crew and Gap Inc. She will also join Bonobos’ board.
Dunn said bringing in a ceo was an idea he brought to the company’s board two years ago when he realized that ceo and chairman are two different jobs. He met Della Badia five years ago, but it wasn’t until Bonobos grew beyond its online start and started adding retail showrooms it calls Guideshops, that it made sense to bring her on.
Bonobos started as a men’s pants specialist online and sold its one-millionth pair of chinos in April. The business now offers almost every category of men’s wear. Dunn said the “full assortment outside of pants” eclipses the pants portion of the overall business. Suiting, especially the $525 Jetsetter Suit, is a strong performer, as are dress shirts.
Dunn declined to reveal revenues, but he said the company has seen substantial growth over the past year. Bonobos doubled its Guideshop count over the past 12 months and is on track to have 20 outposts by year’s end, including the opening of its first flagship Guideshop in New York City’s Flatiron district. The two-story outpost on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 17th street will open next month. The brand is also carried in all 118 full-priced Nordstrom doors and several top performing Belk stores. Customer service has become a pillar for Bonobos, where “ninjas” are trained to assist the customer both on and offline. This makes the brand a good fit for Nordstrom, which is an investor in Bonobos and also emphasizes customer service in its business.
The company’s recent growth has been helped along by a $55 million series D round of funding revealed last summer. Led by Coppel Capital, the funding brought total capital raised to over $127 million. Dunn said he has no plans to raise additional money.
The growing company could benefit from a new set of eyes, however. “She knows so much that we don’t know,” said Dunn of Della Badia. “A lot of the physical retail side that we’re bringing a new angle to is new to me.”
Della Badia will oversee day-to-day operations and, as leader of the board, Dunn said he will work on pushing the “innovation frontier,” serve as a sounding board to the ceo, focus on new things and remain the brand’s number-one ambassador.
“It’s my baby,” he said.