Vera Bradley is the latest retailer looking for a new chief executive.
The specialty retailer said chairman and chief executive Robert Wallstrom plans to retire. He will remain in office until a successor is appointed, which is expected in early 2023.
Wallstrom took the helm from Vera Bradley in 2013 after spending nearly 17 years at Saks Inc. He oversaw the expansion of the company’s portfolio in 2019 with the acquisition oforiginal digital jewelry and accessories Pure Vida company.
“Rob is a bold leader, innovator and visionary who has worked tirelessly to scale the business and position it for growth,” said Board Chairman Robert Hall. “As an advocate for the power of business to create impact and positive outcomes for people and communities, Rob is focused on building an organization with a strong culture that strives to have a positive impact on all stakeholders.”
Wallstrom will work with the board to find his successor. Both internal and external candidates will be considered for the position. Other retailers looking for a new CEO include Gap Inc. and bed, bathtub & Beyond.
“The Board takes very seriously its responsibility to find the right CEO who will continue to focus on building consistent and sustainable long-term growth,” Hall said. “The next CEO will also need to successfully manage these challenging economic times, including overseeing the implementation of our cost reduction initiatives that will better position us for the future.”
Vera Bradley, whose first-quarter net loss rose from $2.1 million to $7 million, is in the midst of an overall process of cost reduction and efficiency. Management has identified annualized cost reductions totaling approximately $25 million.
Expense savings will come from various areas of the business, including retail store efficiency, marketing expenses, information technology contracts, professional services, logistics and operational costs, and payroll. of the company (mainly through attrition).