NEW YORK — One Price Clothing Stores’ two-month search for a new chief executive officer ended Monday with the appointment of John Disa to the post at the troubled 552-store chain.
This story first appeared in the November 11, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Disa succeeds Ronald Swedin, who’d served as acting ceo since the September resignation of Leonard Snyder. Swedin will resume his previous role as senior vice president of store operations at the Duncan, S.C.-based off-price chain.
Disa comes to One Price after serving as chief operating officer of Lady/Kids Foot Locker, where he’d previously worked as senior vice president of merchandise planning. Earlier in his career, he’d spent 14 years with Casual Corner Group Inc., where his positions included senior vice president and chief financial officer and, most recently, president of the Casual Corner division.
T. Scott King, a One Price director and vice president of Sun One Price LLC, its largest shareholder, commented in a statement, “We are delighted that an individual with John’s breadth of experience in the retail arena is joining the strong management team currently in place. With the recent investment of an additional $5 million by Sun One Price LLC and various cost-cutting initiatives already in place, we believe the addition of John’s leadership to the team puts the company in a solid position for future success.”
The $5 million secured loan from Sun One was engineered “to maximize our ability to purchase key merchandise for the holiday season,” Swedin said. “With this additional capital, we expect to optimize our product mix for the fourth quarter, as well as take advantage of outstanding buying opportunities that currently exist in the marketplace.”
One Price has been battling weak sales and steep losses in the past year. Net losses for the past four quarters have totaled $27.5 million, $5.3 million of that in the second quarter ended Aug. 2. In the third quarter ended Nov. 1, sales, impeded by 60 fewer stores than in the prior-year quarter, dropped 15.1 percent to $62.3 million while comparable-store sales receded 8.4 percent.
In disclosing sales for the quarter last week, Swedin pointed out, “Third-quarter sales suffered due to lackluster consumer demand and continuing economic uncertainty, particularly among the ethnic customer population targeted by the company.”
He also cited, as did other retailers reporting lackluster sales results last month and during the third quarter, “acute price competition” and “unseasonably warm weather” in October for the poor performance.
Last month, One Price filled a vacancy internally, appointing C. Burt Duren, formerly vice president of finance and treasurer, to be its new senior vice president and chief financial officer.
Back in June, Sun One, an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, a private investment firm based in Boca Raton, Fla., plowed $7 million into One Price, effectively gaining control of 85 percent of the company’s stock, and concurrently received a $10 million increase in its credit line, to $54.7 million, from Congress Financial Corp.
Both components required accounts-receivable concessions from One Price’s vendors.
The management change failed to excite investors, who sent One Price shares down 14 cents, or 21.5 percent, to close at 51 cents in over-the-counter trading.