For your downloadable copy:
Plummer & Associates has completed the assignment to recruit the President for Viva International. Mr. Antonia Bortuzzo has accepted the role and will lead this Somerville, New Jersey eyewear manufacturer and distributor. Viva International Group is a global leader in high-quality, fashion eyewear. Its portfolio ranges from accessible luxury brands GANT by Michael Bastian and GUESS by Marciano, to fashion and lifestyle brands BONGO®, CANDIE’S®, Catherine Deneuve, GANT, GANT Rugger, GUESS, Harley-Davidson®, RAMPAGE®, SKECHERS and William Rast, and value names Viva, Magic Clip®, and Savvy.
Most recently, Antonio Bortuzzo was chief executive officer (CEO) of Alain Mikli International Group in Paris. Mikli designs, manufactures and distributes ophthalmic frames and
sunwear, and has retail stores worldwide. Previously, he was the CEO of fashion optical eyewear wholesaler Allison S.p.A. in Padova, Italy, and, from 2002-2007 he was the CEO and general manager of Marcolin Group, Belluno as well as CEO of Marcolin, U.S. in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Susan Gill and I are pleased we were once again able to bring such high caliber talent to Viva International and similar high growth organizations. Over the past few months we have recruited the General Manager – International for Viva International based in the U.K., the General Manager – Canada, and the Senior Vice President – Sales for Viva in the U.S. This demonstrates our abilities to conduct international search assignments for our clients.
The pundits are having a good time poking fun at Ron Johnson’s expense. Yes, he made big mistakes. However, he was not the real problem.
Penney’s has been declining for years. The real blame belongs to the Board and the prior management. Over the years, J C Penney focused on the same customer and followed those customers as they grew older; management failed to attract younger customer. Everyone in retail knows the younger customers are the profitable customers. Only during the brief tenure of Allen Questrom and Vanessa Castagna did J C Penney do the right things.
I always believed the probability of success in Ron’s strategy to take JCP upscale and simultaneously attract a younger customer was unlikely. As retailers switch from one customer base to another, the retailer usually first finds the bottom of the Grand Canyon. That is where JCP is today. The old customers do not like what they see and the new customers do not like shopping with the old customers. In my mind, investors cannot afford to take the time required to successfully support a retail turnaround.
I have seen several retailers attempt to make customer base changes. Some that come to mind are:
All were colossal failures. On the other hand, Target did successfully make a change but it was done gradually and over several years. The customer base change was also less significant.
The essence of this story is that the Board and management need to keep their eyes focused on the long-term health of the company versus short-term quarterly tactics. The truth is that a merchant prince can seldom pull off a successful major change in customer base.
Plummer & Associates recruited Mr. Giovanni Pesce as SVP-International Sales for Viva Optique, a division of HVHC. Mr. Pesce brings extensive international experience in the eyewear industry. He will be based in Italy and his role will be to develop business in Europe, the Middle East, India, and in the Far East. He joined the company in December, 2011.
NEW YORK DEPARTMENT STORES – ABRAHAM & STRAUS
Founded in 1865 by Abraham Abraham and Joseph Wechsler in Brooklyn, New York, the company initially opened as Wechsler & Abraham on Fulton Street near Tillary. At this time, Brooklyn was a thriving community of its own; the Brooklyn Bridge had not yet been built. In the early 1880’s, the company bought and renovated an ornate cast iron building on Fulton between Hoyt Street and Gallatin Place. With continual expansion, the store eventually occupied the entire block. The building was equally ornate inside as depicted in some of the postcards shown below. A five-story courtyard with a skylight allowed daylight to show off the merchandise. Abraham & Straus became the retail showplace in New York. The last major renovation was between 1928 and 1930 when the architects Starrett & Van Vleck designed the new building facing Fulton Street in Art Deco style. This store still stands today but is now a Macy’s.
In 1893, the Straus family along with Simon Rothschild bought out the Wechsler interest in the company and the store was renamed Abraham & Straus. The Straus family also had controlling interest in R.H. Macy & Company in New York. The two retailers were not combined but did maintain a common buying office in Europe. During the 1910s, the Straus family separated their interest in the two stores, with Abraham & Straus going to one branch of the family, and Macy’s to the other. In April, 1912, Isidor and Ida Straus went down with the Titanic.
In 1929, Abraham & Straus, Bloomingdale’s, Filene’s and Lazarus (along with its subsidiary, Shillito’s) merged to form Federated Department Stores. At this time, Federated was located in Columbus, Ohio but later moved to Cincinnati. The merger gave each division the strength to weather economic storms and also created buying clout in the U.S. and Europe.
Family members ran Abraham & Straus until 1955. Walter Rothschild was President and Chairman until 1955, and was succeeded by Sidney Solomon, the first non-family member to lead the company.
In 1950, the company purchased the Loeser’s store in Garden City and converted it to Abraham & Straus. In 1952, the company built its first suburban store in Hempstead. That store was expanded over the years until it exceeded 400,000 square feet. The company continued expansion with stores in Manhasset, Smithtown, Babylon (later replaced), Monmouth (NJ), Paramus (NJ), White Plains (NY), Short Hills (NJ), King of Prussia (PA), Willow Grove (PA), and Manhattan.
Under the leadership of Walter Rothschild and Sidney Solomon, Abraham & Straus was the powerhouse of Federated Department Stores. The division contributed more earnings per share than any other division. For years it was known as the training ground for merchants for the retail industry. Many of the top retail CEO’s came from the A& S training program.
Unfortunately, Abraham & Straus also became the funding source for Federated Department Store’s divisions in the Sunbelt (Bullock’s, Burdines, Sanger-Harris, and Rich’s). Eventually the Brooklyn market declined as did Hempstead and Babylon. The new management team relied on a strategy of opening new stores to grow their way out of the problems created by the declining markets. New stores were built in White Plains and Short Hills, but neither was an immediate success. Then, A&S made the disastrous decision to open stores in the Philadelphia market (Willow Grove and King of Prussia). These stores worsened the situation. As a final fiasco, the division opened a new store near Herald Square in NYC, a store that never could be profitable. On top of all this, a new centralized distribution center was opened, intended to reduce expenses and to increase the selling space in each store. Through management bungling, this operation became a major problem as shortage increased dramatically chain wide. In addition, costs were far above projections and merchandise got stalled in the pipeline.
Atop all the management mistakes in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, the final blow came when Campeau, the real estate developer, bought Federated Department Stores and combined it with Allied Stores. This led to the combination of A&S with Jordan Marsh (Boston), operating out of the Brooklyn headquarters. In 1994, Federated Department Stores purchased bankrupt R.H. Macy & Co and in 1995, combined A&S with the Macy’s New York division, converting stores to the Macy’s brand or other divisions of Federated.
I first saw Abraham & Straus in the late 1960’s when it was a powerhouse. I was working at Bullock’s in Los Angeles and was asked to visit with A&S to gather information on some of their personnel policies and procedures. I was impressed. The customer traffic was unbelievable. The fashion displays were incredible as the volume justified the costs. I joined A&S in 1976 and it was then on a fast downhill slide. Management’s response was to take the business upscale. This new direction worked in Manhasset, Smithtown, Paramus and the smaller Garden City store but in the other stores the new direction was a disaster. In Brooklyn, for example, we added a Pappagallo shop and put $12 million into an upscale renovation of the Brooklyn store when in fact all that sold in front of the store were Jellies and incense on cardboard boxes. The employees lost confidence in management as customers objected to the new higher priced merchandise. Unions started organizing attempts because of separation of the associates from management. One day over 6,000 people demonstrated in support of the unions in front of the Brooklyn store. The store also became a magnet for criminals. Organized gangs came into the store to steal merchandise. One Christmas Eve a gang came into the jewelry department during business hours, broke all the cases and stole the majority of the merchandise.
The postcard collection primarily shows the store pre-1930 when it was grand. Like all the other cards in the Plummer Collection, I ask that you do not reproduce or copy any of these postcards without gaining my written permission.
I trust that you will feel comfortable to leave your comments about your history with A&S, either as a customer or as an employee. We need to preserve this important part of retail history.
CHARMING CHARLIE APPOINTS KEITH CLINE AS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
HOUSTON –(BUSINESS WIRE)– Charming Charlie announced today that it has appointed Keith Cline as Chief Financial Officer effective February 28, 2011.
Mr. Cline comes to Charming Charlie from Express, Inc. (NYSE: EXPR), where he most recently served as Senior Vice President, Finance. During his five year tenure, Mr. Cline played a key role in both the 2007 privatization of Express and the subsequent initial public offering in 2010. Prior to that, Mr. Cline served as Director, Corporate Finance at Limited Brands, Inc. [NYSE: LTD] from 2003 to 2006. Mr. Cline’s career also includes financial leadership roles with FedEx Custom Critical, The J. M. Smucker Company, and Mettler-Toledo International, Inc. Mr. Cline began his career in public accounting with Arthur Andersen & Company and is a graduate of The University of Akron with a B.S. in Accounting as well as a M.B.A. in Finance.
“We are very pleased to welcome Keith to our team,” said Charlie Chanaratsopon, Chief Executive Officer of Charming Charlie. “Keith’s extensive background in finance combined with his retail experience and leadership capabilities will be invaluable as we continue to aggressively expand our national footprint. He is exceptionally well qualified to serve as our new Chief Financial Officer and I look forward to working closely with him to take this Company to the next level.”
|True Religion Apparel, Inc. Names Jordan Daly as Vice President of Brand Strategy, Public Relations and Marketing|
|VERNON, Calif., May 12, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) –True Religion Apparel, Inc. (Nasdaq: TRLG) today announced that the Company has named Jordan Daly as Vice President of Brand Strategy, Marketing and Public Relations effective May 1, 2011. Ms. Daly will be responsible for developing the direction for, and managing all aspects of brand management, marketing, public relations and special projects on a global basis. She will drive a strategic multi-platform communication plan, oversee brand identity and positioning, campaigns, public relations, special events, product launches and internal communications to further build the Company’s market leadership position and maximize profitability. Mr. Jeffrey Lubell, the Company’s Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Merchant will be directly involved in overseeing Ms. Daly’s initiatives.Ms. Daly was most recently Vice President Public Relations Americas for Burberry Group, PLC. Prior to that, she served as Managing Director with HL Group, LLC specifically overseeing strategic marketing and communication platforms for consumer, fashion and lifestyle clients. Ms. Daly’s additional professional experience includes serving as Public Relations Director with kate spade and she worked in account management and advertisement roles with Factory Communications. Ms. Daly began her career at Harrison & Shriftman and has a B.S., Fashion Merchandising and Marketing from the University of Alabama.Jeffrey Lubell, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Merchant of True Religion Apparel, Inc. stated, “Jordan brings a wealth of knowledge in all facets of brand development that will help further increase our overall brand awareness and affinity. As we continue to expand and further evolve our global presence, Jordan will be instrumental in guiding our efforts to reach our target customer while enhancing our reputation as one of the world’s premier denim and lifestyle brands.”|
HALE BROTHERS – SACRAMENTO
In 1880 the Criterion Store was opened by Prentice Cobb Hale and his two brothers. This store was located in downtown Sacramento. The next year the store and company was renamed Hale Brothers & Company. In 1896, the company incorporated under the name of Hale Bros. In 1887, the company established a buying office in New York headed by Marshall Hale. This store was known for offering value priced merchandise.
Hale Bros opened large stores in San Francisco and San Jose and several smaller stores in California’s smaller markets. In those days some of the stores included groceries in their merchandise mix. Each store was managed as a separate entity as systems were not sophisticated enough to have chain wide merchandising. The Sacramento store was last located at 9th and K Streets. The San Jose store was at the corner of 1st and San Carlos. The San Francisco store was first located at 989 Market Street. After the earthquake, the company built a new store at 901 Market Street in a neoclassical building designed by the Reid Brothers. It lost that store in a 1944 lease dispute with the owners of the land upon which the store was built. As a result, J.C.Penney moved into this prime location and Hale Bros was forced to take over the former J.C.Penney location adjacent to the enormous Emporium store. The foolish negotiations by Hale Bros resulted in the company opening in an older building while paying a much higher rent.
In 1949, Hale Bros. acquired their Sacramento rival, Weinstocks Lubin & Co. In 1949, Hale Bros. negotiated an all-stock merger with Los Angeles based Broadway Department Stores, then the largest and most aggressively growing chain in Southern California. The result was Broadway-Hale Stores. Prentice Hale became the Chairman and Ed Carter (Broadway) became President.
All stores were closed by 1968. Hale Brothers was facing increased competition from the Emporium and aggressive specialty retailers. Consumers were moving to the malls while Hale Bros stores were in downtown markets. Since the Emporium was merged into Broadway – Hale in 1969, I have to believe they knew that Hale Bros stores would not be relevant in that combined company. At the time, the only people crying over the loss were the employees of Hale Bros. The store was not missed.
The Sacramento store has now been restored to its original look; the unsightly aluminum sheathing has been removed. The San Jose store now houses a building and loan office. The San Francisco store was empty for years after J.C. Penney left San Francisco. It now houses big box retail venues.
What happened????…. In the case of Hale Bros you cannot blame Carter Hawley Hale for its demise. Instead, blame goes directly to the company’s management. The loss of the San Francisco store lease killed that store. They ended up with a store that was old and in decline and they paid more in rent. They just could not compete with the more customer friendly Emporium next door. Customers were also looking for more fashion but Hale Brothers did not offer it. The biggest problem was that the customers were moving to mall shopping environments and Hale Bros stores were only located in downtown venues.
I was taken to the Hale Bros stores in both Sacramento and San Francisco. In Sacramento, the Weinstock’s store was far more exciting. In San Francisco, going to Hale Bros was torture in comparison to the Emporium, the White House, or the City of Paris. Then, when Macy’s San Francisco woke-up, it was all over for Hale Bros.
I hope that all of you who know Hale Bros better than I do will be able to tell your stories in the comments section below. I would especially like to hear more about how the real estate mogul, Louis Lurie, out foxed Prentice Hale.
These Hale Bros. postcards are part of the Plummer & Associates collection. Please do not copy or reproduce without permission from John Plummer.