Joshua Schulman is leaving Bergdorf Goodman on May 10, after five years as president of the luxury emporium, WWD has learned.
The Neiman Marcus Group, which operates Bergdorf’s, confirmed Schulman’s departure and said he has accepted “a leadership role at a multinational fashion company” but did not mention which one.
Bergdorf’s marked Schulman’s first time running a department store. He has been wearing a second hat as president of NMG International, including overseeing the Munich-based Mytheresa.com division.
Jim Gold, Neiman’s president and chief merchandising officer, will oversee the Bergdorf’s team, and Michael Kliger, president, MyTheresa, will report to Karen Katz, president and chief executive officer of the Neiman Marcus Group. Gold was president of Bergdorf’s from 2004 to 2010.
Schulman is leaving Bergdorf’s at a pivotal time. The Neiman Marcus Group, owned by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Ares Management, earlier this month announced it was up for sale. Hudson’s Bay Co. is pursuing a deal and is believed to be the only retailer interested in a transaction. A deal could be announced within weeks.
NMG has been struggling, hurt by declining international tourism, a heavy debt load sapping profits and the capital expenditures budget to upgrade stores sufficiently, and shifting consumer spending patterns away from fashion.
NMG has also been affected by serious glitches arising from the introduction of its NMG One common merchandise system, causing vendors to miss sales data, payments and impairing ordering and replenishments.
In addition, traffic at Bergdorf’s, located on Fifth Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets, for awhile was impeded by stepped-up security measures around Trump Tower.
Schulman is an executive steeped in the luxury business where he has worked for about 25 years, primarily on the wholesale side.
Earlier in his career, he was ceo of Jimmy Choo and executive vice president of the Gucci Group. Schulman was also once president of Kenneth Cole New York, and Gap Inc.’s managing director of international strategic alliances.
Domenico De Sole, chairman of Tom Ford International and former president and ceo of Gucci Group, once described Schulman as “a very capable and intelligent merchant who has proven to be a strong ceo. He understands luxury. He expanded ladies ready-to-wear at Gucci and then at Yves Saint Laurent did an excellent job. He’s a very thoughtful boss and always promoting his own people” and prone to crediting his team. “He says ‘we’ not ‘I,’” De Sole noted.
Schulman is credited with pulling Jimmy Choo together and propelling its growth, starting at a time when the company was in turmoil after three buyouts in six years and had a divided leadership. Early on, he staged an off-site where he came up with a strategy for the business including playing up platforms to a much greater degree. He expanded the range of shoes, which was a trick that many fashion shoe brands, associated with a particular style or heel, could not pull off.
At Bergdorf’s, Schulman developed a five-year strategic plan, called BG 20/20, involving new business opportunities, including pumping up bg.com and extensive renovations at the women’s store, the heart of which was an overhaul of the main floor of the women’s building for accessories and fine jewelry. Jewelry became “a store within a store” on the 57th Street side, and “a grand hall” for leather goods emerged off the Fifth Avenue entrance flowing over to designer accessories salons extending to the 58th Street entrance.
Bergdorf’s is in the process of creating an additional 25,000 square feet of retail space encompassing the eighth and ninth floors, which house executive offices. The two new floors are expected to open by 2018.
Schulman declined to comment on his next job, saying he would leave it to the company he joins to make the announcement.
One source speculated that Schulman not too long ago purchased a home in New York where he lives with his husband, and would not likely want to leave the area.