After being on the sidelines since August 2014, Brendan L. Hoffman, the former chief executive officer of The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. and earlier Lord & Taylor, has joined Vince as ceo.
He succeeds Mark Brody, who has served as interim ceo since July when Jill Granoff departed from the brand.
“I’m excited. I really took the time I had over the last 12 months to spend time with my family and research a lot of different opportunities,” Hoffman told WWD. “Vince, with all the different platforms it has, was a very easy decision,” he added, noting the brand’s retail, wholesale, e-commerce and international platforms, and brand extensions.
It won’t be an easy job, considering the company has recently been plagued by product issues, stock price declines and executive turnover. The only high-level position still to be filled is chief financial officer, Hoffman said. “As you do with any organization, you continue to see what you need to grow the brand.” In July, Vince hired a senior vice president of merchandising, Livia Lee.
Hoffman has faced challenging situations in the past, including steering Lord & Taylor through recessionary times, and trying to reverse difficult business at Bon-Ton. Both are regional retailers competing against much larger national chains.
Asked about the challenges at Vince, Hoffman replied, “I would say there are a lot of opportunities and a lot of great things in place. The foundation is there. The brand is very relevant to the consumer….I think it starts with product. You have to get the product right. That’s a challenge for every brand. My skill set will translate very well to this brand. The major customers for Vince are the major department stores. I know them. I know how they think. I add some value there.”
Vince also sells extensively to specialty stores and has its own freestanding stores.
The company indicated that Hoffman would start his new job right away and will also be a member of the board. Brody will remain with the company through a transition period and will continue to serve on the board.
Hoffman served as ceo and president of Bon-Ton Stores from February 2012 to August 2014, and ceo and president of Lord & Taylor for more than three years. Earlier, he served six years as president and ceo of Neiman Marcus Direct, where he oversaw the growth of neimanmarcus.com and the launch and growth of bergdorfgoodman.com. Hoffman also served as vice president of the Last Call clearance division at Neiman Marcus and as a divisional merchandise manager of Bergdorf Goodman.
Marc Leder, chairman of the Vince Holdings Corp. board, said Hoffman “brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Vince. We believe that his strong merchandising skills, in-depth knowledge of the department store channel and e-commerce experience make him an excellent choice for chief executive officer.”
The contemporary brand, established in 2002, has corporate headquarters in New York, a design studio in Los Angeles, 34 full-price retail stores, 12 outlets and an e-commerce site.
For the three months ended Aug. 1, the company had a net loss of $5 million, or 14 cents a diluted share, against net income of $10.5 million, or 27 cents, a year ago. Excluding adjustments such as inventory write-down and management transition costs, net income for the quarter was $5.2 million, or 14 cents a diluted share.
Net sales fell 10.4 percent to $80 million from $89.3 million but comparable-store sales rose 13.4 percent, which includes e-commerce.
Recently, to avoid a liquidity issue, the company amended a “tax receivable agreement” with an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners Inc., the private equity firm that acquired Kellwood — from which Vince was spun off in 2008. The payment of $22.8 million plus accrued interest in the third quarter is now owed by Sept. 15, 2016. The TRA is part of a series of agreements connected with the separation of Vince from Kellwood when it completed its initial public offering. At the time, Sun also made a capital contribution of $407.5 million to effect the separation from Kellwood. Sun still has a 56 percent stake in Vince.
The company recently lowered guidance for fiscal-year 2015 to sales of between $285 million and $295 million, with adjusted diluted earnings per share at between 31 cents and 37 cents, excluding any adjustments for the write-downs and management transition costs. Earlier in June, the company forecast net sales for the year at between $340 million and $350 million, on diluted EPS of between 85 cents and 90 cents.