The nearly yearlong search for a new leader has come to an end for Destination XL Group.
On Wednesday, the country’s largest big and tall men’s retailer named Harvey S. Kanter president and chief executive officer. He joined the Canton, Mass.-based company on Tuesday and will succeed David Levin, who had been acting ceo since officially retiring from the role at the end of last year. Levin will continue to serve as an adviser to Kanter until April 1. Kanter will also join DXLG’s board of directors.
Kanter has an extensive background in retail but not in men’s big and tall. Most recently he was president, ceo and chairman of the board of Blue Nile Inc., the online retailer of high-quality diamonds and fine jewelry, which was purchased and taken private by Bain Capital in early 2017.
Before that, he was president and ceo of Moosejaw Mountaineering and Backcountry Travel Inc., a multichannel retailer of outdoor apparel and gear that was acquired by Walmart. He has also held executive positions at Michael’s Stores Inc. and Eddie Bauer Inc.
In addition to continuing to serve on the board at Blue Nile, Kanter also sits on the board of Potbelly Corp., an international sandwich concept. He is also a brand ambassador for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an advisory board member to the Seattle University Executive MBA Program. Kanter received his MBA in marketing from Babson College and his undergraduate degree from Arizona State University with a BS in marketing.
John Kyees, chairman of the board of DXLG, said: “We welcome Harvey to DXLG, and look forward to his leadership and strategic insights. We also want to thank David Levin for his outstanding contributions and significant accomplishments during his 18 years as president and ceo of the company. In 2002, David was instrumental in our entry into the men’s big and tall market through the acquisition of Casual Male and, since then, has driven the strategic redirection of our company, including the design and launch of the DXL concept, the rollout of a nationwide fleet of 231 fresh and contemporary DXL retail and outlet stores, the development of a new digital platform and the establishment of a wholesale business. Everyone at DXLG wishes him well in his retirement.”
Kyees added that while Kanter has no apparent expertise in the highly specialized men’s big and tall market, he’s confident in the new ceo’s ability to lead the retailer forward. “We conducted an extensive search and are very impressed with Harvey’s track record of creating shareholder value and his digital experience, as well as his strategic and operational expertise,” Kyees said. “We are confident that his consumer-focused mind-set, passion for omnichannel retail and deep understanding of the new economy will successfully steer the DXL concept through its next phase of growth.”
Kanter said he believes DXLG “has a tremendous opportunity as the leader in the big and tall men’s apparel sector with a large, growing and addressable market. The company’s continued evolution across a highly effective bricks-and-mortar and digital platform enhances an already first-class retail experience for its loyal customer base. Leveraging its omnichannel and wholesale capabilities to reach a broader customer base will drive the next growth chapter.”
DXLG, which operates Destination XL, Casual Male XL and Rochester Clothing stores in the U.S., Canada and London, reported in November that it had cut its losses and improved its comparable-store sales in the third quarter, prompting it to update its earnings guidance for the fiscal year.
Last May, the company instituted a corporate restructuring intended to improve its profitability by eliminating 56 positions, or 15 percent of its corporate workforce. As a result of the restructuring, the company expects to realize savings of approximately $5.6 million in selling, general and administrative expenses in fiscal 2018, which will be reported next month.
Levin had revealed his intention to retire last March but a successor proved hard to find. The company had initially worked with one search firm but switched to another last fall.