NEW YORK — The rhino is preparing its charge.
Last week, Marc Ecko Enterprises, the youth apparel and lifestyle company with the rhinoceros mascot, unveiled a new management structure, reassigning titles among existing leadership. MEE’s new president said the move will pave the way for increased growth and, potentially, an initial public offering.
In the restructuring, Effy Zinkin, previously chief operating officer, became president of MEE as well as president of the company’s flagship Ecko Unlimited brand. Seth Gerszberg, who ceded the role of MEE president to Zinkin, became chief executive officer, a post vacated by Marc Ecko, who became chairman of the board and chief creative officer.
As president, Zinkin presides over a new executive management group, a five-member board charged with oversight of the company’s operations. Relieved of day-to-day management responsibilities, Gerszberg is now focused on growth opportunities.
“This represents a shift for us,” Zinkin said. “We are preparing to catapult ourselves to the next level in that we want to become a $1 billion company, rather than merely growing 10 or 15 percent a year.”
Zinkin declined to say what company revenues are, but projected that 2006 retail sales of all of MEE products, worldwide, would be $1.5 billion.
Zinkin said the reorganization at the top will allow MEE to make more “strategic” moves, the first of which is the launch of a mall-based, full-price retail operation. (MEE operates 40 outlet stores across the country.) The company aims to open 150 full-price stores over the next three years, including a long-awaited flagship on West 42nd Street here slated to open in May 2007. Last month, MEE hired Eric Plyler, formerly vice president of stores for Pacific Sunwear’s d.e.m.o. division, as president of Ecko retail.
The management changes are not a prelude to any merger or acquisition, Zinkin emphasized. “We’ve been approached many times by potential buyers,” he said. “We’ve chosen instead to grow ourselves.”
Zinkin said MEE’s 2005 profitability was twice what it was in 2004, and that first-quarter 2006 profitability was triple that of the same quarter a year prior.
Asked about the possibility of an IPO, Zinkin said, “We are exploring that as a real option for the future, but it’s not something we’re prepared to do today.”
Zinkin also said MEE is establishing a board of advisers, and that former Aéropostale president John Mills is the first of an eventual four or five members.
MEE employs 800 people worldwide. Its apparel brands include Ecko Unlimited, Ecko Red, Zoo York, Avirex, G-Unit and Marc Ecko Cut & Sew.