QRS NAMES LIZ FETTER CHIEF EXEC
Byline: Valerie Seckler
NEW YORK — Supply-chain technology giant QRS has reached beyond the retail ring to select a new president and chief executive officer, Elizabeth (Liz) Fetter, who brings a decade of telecommunications and information services background to the Richmond, Calif.-based firm where she took the helm Monday.
Fetter, 43, succeeds John Simon, who will remain with the company as executive vice president of strategy and business development. “Although the soft-goods business is suffering now — and particularly since Sept. 11 — I do think there are opportunities to seize,” Fetter said when asked why she’s made the leap to QRS from NorthPoint Communications, where she also held the posts of president and ceo. “Having begun to implement a global strategy that leverages its e-commerce solutions, QRS is positioned for significant growth.”
“Specialty retail is an area we are going to pursue,” Fetter noted of her priorities at 13-year-old QRS, a leading technology provider for fashion megabrands like Liz Claiborne and retailers such as Federated Department Stores and Sears, Roebuck & Co., which has focused much of its effort on department stores in building its base of approximately 4,000 customers. “We will be trying to close some deals, between now and year’s end, for some interesting new sourcing applications,” she added, but did not elaborate.
In her two years at NorthPoint, Fetter helped take the DSL-based broadband services provider public and grew it from a volume of $1 million when she joined to $100 million upon her exit. Prior to NorthPoint, she was vice president and general manager of U.S. West’s $5 billion consumer services group, where she managed the unit’s 11 million customers and led its e-business initiatives. QRS, whose operations include the two-year-old Tradeweave.com business-to-business auction Web site, has annual volume north of $100 million.
It’s not as though Fetter is a complete stranger to retail. In fact, she spent the first part of her career working for various consumer goods companies and grocery chains and consulted for Australia-based Cole-Myers. QRS turned to Fetter, among other candidates, this summer, when, she said, it “got serious about succession planning and began a ceo search” for Simon’s successor.
Acknowledging it was unusual for a ceo to remain after being succeeded, Fetter said she expected to work well with Simon, who also is in his 40s, because “he is a person with a high degree of integrity and a low-key ego.” Fetter added: “His first love is retail. He grew up in retail and came to QRS at its inception. He likes handling the customer relationships, but not all other aspects of running the business.” Simon was unavailable for comment Monday.
QRS chairman Peter Johnson said in a statement: “Liz brings a proven record of transforming companies and creating value for customers and shareholders. We are confident Liz is the right person to lead our senior management team in refining our strategy to improve performance and growth.”