Posts Tagged ‘susan gill’

Plummer & Associates Recruits President for Viva International Based in Somerville, New Jersey

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

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.

Plummer & Associates Recruit CAO/CFO To Charming Charlie

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Plummer & Associates recruited the EVP-CAO/CFO to Charming Charlie, the high-growth retailer of women’s accessories based in Houston, Texas.

Mr. Thomas Fitzgerald joined and reports to Mr. Charlie Chanaratsopon , the Founder and Chief Executive Officer. Previously, Tom was the Chief Administrative Officer for Sears Canada based in Toronto. Earlier in his career he had been Chief Executive Officer for Lucky Brand Jeans, and Chief Operating Officer for Bath & Body Works.



Wednesday, April 24th, 2013


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:

  1.       Abraham & Straus Department Stores – Brooklyn, New York
  2.       Sears – The Softer Side
  3.       Kmart- The New Kmart
  4.       Mervyn’s – Mervyn’s California

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.


Saturday, January 14th, 2012

I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Premier for Red Tails, the new movie by George Lucas.

This movie about the Tuskegee Airmen in World War 2 is American history at its finest!  It is also an enjoyable movie.

I have been lucky to have known George since childhood and have always been proud of his accomplishments. This movie and the related show on the History Channel is his giveback to our society. My heart pitter pats.



Friday, December 9th, 2011


A T STEWART & COMPANY – NYC – (stereoview card – prior to postcards)


Alexander Turney Stewart, an Irish immigrant, opened his dry goods store in 1823. The first store was located at 283 Broadway. The business became so successful he opened a second, much larger store on Broadway between Chambers and Reade Streets. This new store was, in fact, the largest in New York City. It was known as the Marble Palace as the building was clad in Tuckahoe marble. Lord & Taylor which operated out of a small store in Greenwich Village was its only competitor. The store sold imported European merchandise. Fashion shows were held on the second floor in the Ladies Parlor renowned for its large mirrors. The store became well known for its unique design and for the merchandise carried. This store is today known as the first department store in the U.S.

In 1860, Mr. Stewart built a new store further uptown on Broadway between 9th and 10th Streets which opened in 1862. This store was still larger and much closer to where the other stores had moved on the Ladies Mile (Macy’s, B. Altman, Lord & Taylor). Cast iron construction allowed the store to be more open and provided for large windows on the street level to showcase merchandise. The building was called the Iron Palace.

Besides being known as the creator of the first department store in the U.S., Mr. Stewart also became known for creating his own mills and sewing factories to produce product for his store. He gained more fame for laying out the plan for Garden City on Long Island.

Alexander Stewart died in 1876. His company continued in business until 1882 when it became Hilton, Hughes & Co run by associates of Mr. Stewart. Unfortunately, the new company failed and closed in August, 1896. The next month the store was acquired by Wannamaker’s from Philadelphia.

Wanamaker’s first building at 280 Broadway later became the headquarters for the New York Sun, the publisher of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”. The building is now owned by the City of New York. The Iron Palace burned down in a massive fire in the 1950’s when it operated as a John Wannamaker store.

The first department store in the world is the Au Bon Marche in Paris, France. Although A. T. Stewart’s first store opened before Au Bon Marche, his first store was small and was not considered a department store in terms of organization.

Although there are many block prints of the A. T. Stewart store, there are few postcards. The store existed before postcards became legal with the U.S. Postal Service.

A T Stewart Home – Fifth Avenue – NYC


Friday, December 9th, 2011


For years, the Arnold Constable & Company was known as the “oldest department store” in America. It served the ‘carriage trade’ of New York. Famous customers included the Astor’s, Vanderbilt’s, Roosevelt’s, and Mary Todd Lincoln. The company was known for bring the best French fashion to NYC.


The company was started in 1825 by Mr. Aaron Arnold, an immigrant from the Isle of Wright. Before he opened his store he had been working with James Hearn, founder of Hearn’s. Mr. Arnold’s first store was located at the corner of Canal and Mercer Streets, then the center for retail. In 1837, a vendor, James Constable, married Aaron’s daughter and then became a partner in the firm. That is when the name was changed to Arnold Constable.


In 1868 Arnold Constable opened a new store at Broadway and Nineteenth Streets in NYC. This put the store in the middle the new “Ladies’ Mile” shopping district. It was known as “the Palace of Trade”.


In 1914 the company incorporated with reported capital of $2.5m. That same year the company leased the former home of Frederick W. Vanderbilt and started plans for building a new store on Fifth Avenue at 40th Street. At this time it was clear that the shopping district was moving “uptown”.


In 1925, Arnold Constable merged with Stewart & Company which led to the expansion into the suburbs. The first suburban store opened in 1937 in New Rochelle, NY. Later, stores opened in Hempstead, Manhasset, and New Jersey.


In the 1960’s, the carriage trade retailer of New York started to face economic troubles. As sales declined, expenses were rising significantly. The company started closing the unprofitable suburban stores. In 1975, the store on Fifth Avenue closed. After 150 years, the Arnold Constable name disappeared. The company did continue to manage its no-name stores, a small specialty retailer offering men’s and women’s separates. This was later sold in the 1990’s to YM, Inc, a Canadian retail chain.


What happened????   Arnold Constable did not adjust to the newer times and merchandising systems. It continued to cater to a dying “carriage trade” customer and did not attract the younger customers.


I visited Arnold Constable in 1973 on a business trip to NYC. I was interested in comparing it to Bullock’s Wilshire and I. Magnin. To me it was clear that Arnold Constable did not know it was hostile to the younger customer. The store also looked dowdy and was not well merchandised. I was not surprised when the company closed a year later.


Monday, December 5th, 2011

Plummer & Associates recruited Mr. Mark Poston as Chief Executive Officer for Resource Real Estate, one of the largest owner/operator of residential apartment complexes in the U.S. Mr. Poston brings extensive hospitality experience to Resource Real Estate from Bennigan’s, Yum Brands, and ARAMARK. He will lead a team responsible for the management of 65 major properties and future growth. He will be based out of the company’s Philadelphia headquarters. Mark Poston is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.


Monday, December 5th, 2011


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.


Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Plummer & Associates recruited David Moore to become SVP – Merchandising for HVHC based in San Antonio. Mr. Moore brings extensive accessories and eyewear experience from Fossil, Inc.


HVHC, formerly known as Eye Care Centers of America (ECCA), was acquired by Highmark, Inc., a major health care company and the name was changed to Highmark Vision Group (HVHC). This division operates over 540 retail vision centers across the U.S. with the majority carrying the EyeMasters banner. Other brands include: Vision Works, Vision World, Empire Vision, Cambridge Eye Doctors,Value Vision, Eye DRx, Binyons, Total Vision Care, Hour Eyes, DavisVision,and SteinOptical. HVHC is one of the fastest growing optical retailers in the U.S.


Plummer & Associates, based in New Canaan, Connecticut, is a boutique executive recruitment firm which specializes in serving the direct-to-consumer business sectors (retail, retail services, food service, direct selling/marketing, catalog, e-commerce, m-commerce, and apparel). The firm was founded in 1989 and is well-known for the quality of its work and its unparralled track record for recruiting candidates who are successful both in the short- and the longer-term.


Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Every industry segment gets smaller as you climb the ladder. For that very reason it is important that when you turn down an offer of employment, you do it in a fashion showing respect and a desire to keep in touch. You never know who might be your next boss and/or employer. So, no matter how upset you were with the offer or the scope of responsibilities, it is in your best interest to be respectful.

  1. Give the prospective employer a sincere reason why you are turning down the job offer. This must be done by phone not by voice message or e-mail.  If you cannot afford to make the move, be upfront about it. If your spouse and family are against the move, you need to be specific as the prospective employer will want to know why this came up so late in the process. If you feel the role is too limited in scope, you need to let them know it. If you feel the financial condition of the employer is too shaky, you need to tell them that you cannot take the risk.
  2. Thank them for giving you consideration and making an offer. Show gratitude.
  3. Follow up by keeping in touch. Build a bridge; don’t let the bridge built at the offer fall apart.

In my years of human resources and executive recruiting, I have seen long-standing feuds between individuals which started over how an offer was declined. These feuds could have been avoided.