Neil Cole will step down as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Iconix Brand Group Inc.
Cole will continue in the role of special adviser to the company through Sept. 30, to assist with the transition.
Peter Cuneo, a board member, has been appointed by the Iconix board to serve as chairman and interim ceo. Cuneo has been on Iconix’s board since October 2006. He was previously the president and ceo of Marvel Entertainment.
Shares of Iconix fell 3.1 percent Thursday to close at $19.60, but then dropped another 9 percent to $17.83 in post-market trading following the news that Cole was stepping down.
So far, 2015 has been the year of changes at Iconix, with Cole stepping down as the latest change on the leadership team at the company he founded in 2005. Before that, Cole headed up Candie’s, a brand that is now under the Iconix umbrella.
In April, Seth Horowitz resigned as chief operating officer, a post he held for just over a year. The company at the time said it had no plans to seek a successor for the post. Horowitz joined Iconix in April 2012 as president of its men’s division and was promoted to his most recent post in March 2014.
A month before that in March, chief financial officer Jeff Lupinacci resigned. David Jones was named cfo and executive vice president in June.
Since the resignations of Lupinacci and Horowitz, there have been several law firms specializing in securities violations seeking information for a possible class-action lawsuit. A lawsuit seeking class-action status was filed by the law firm of Federman & Sherwood in June against Iconix in a Manhattan federal court. Most of these suits allege misrepresentations that have the effect of artificially inflating the market price of the company’s stock over a certain period. The lawsuit filed by the Federman law firm was no different.
In a letter by Cole to friends and colleagues obtained by sister publication Footwear News, Cole said, “Ten years ago, when we changed our name to Iconix Brand Group, everything we dreamed went on to become a reality and so much more.” He added, “Little did we know, but we were pioneers, leaders and the first movers on a new asset-light business model to be emulated and envied by many.”
Iconix today has grown from just Candie’s to a company that owns 35 consumer brands with about $14 billion in annual retail sales, Cole noted.
Iconix’ business model is called brand management. The model has spawned others such as Authentic Brands Group and Sequential Brands Group. Saban Brands has started its own brand management component for its business. The latest entrant is Marquee Brands, which recently acquired the Ben Sherman label. Executives at Sequential, Saban and Marquee are alumni of Iconix.
Cuneo on Thursday said, “The board believes strongly in the future of Iconix’s underlying business, as signified by its diversified portfolio of iconic consumer brands, outstanding global licensing network and strong free cash flow generation. Our strategy will not change and we are highly confident that the company is well positioned to resume its growth trajectory, organically and through new acquisitions in the months and years ahead.”
Iconix’ board has formed a search committee to evaluate candidates to serve as the company’s next ceo and will hire an executive search firm to help with the process.
In addition to Candie’s, brands under the Iconix umbrella include Badgley Mischka; Joe Boxer; Rampage; Mossimo; London Fog; Ocean Pacific; Danskin; Rocawear; Starter; Umbro; Lee Cooper and Marc Ecko, among others. It also has interests in the Material Girl; Peanuts; Ed Hardy; Nick Graham and Pony brands.