Bebe’s CEO and financial chief exit amid staff reductions

February 19, 2016 01:11 PM

Sliding sales have led to a major shakeup at bebe Stores Inc.

CEO Jim Wiggett and chief financial officer Liyuan Woo are leaving apparel retailer Bebe, No. 427 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide. Additionally, bebe is eliminating nearly 15% of the company’s positions, or 45 in total, including staff memhers in its information technology and support departments. Wiggett had been CEO since June 2014.

Replacing Wiggett will be bebe founder Manny Mashouf. This will be Mashouf’s third stint at the helm of the retailer he founded in 1976. He served as CEO from the company’s founding in 1976 through February 2004 and took charge again from January 2009-January 2013.

Meanwhile, Walter Parks replaces Woo. It is Parks’ second stint with the retailer, having served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer from 2006 until his departure from the company in May 2013.

“We believe the changes we are implementing will enable us to become a leaner and more nimble organization, allowing us to increase our focus on profitability while enhancing our product offering,” Mashouf said. “We recognize that the overall macro environment has not been favorable to retailers in general, which is why we are taking steps that we believe are necessary to position the business for long-term success.”

Bebe also announced that because of the executive shakeup, “we will not be providing guidance until we have increased visibility in our business.”

The moves come on the heels of a strong fiscal second quarter ended Jan. 2 for bebe in terms of e-commerce growth, but a disappointing one for overall sales. 

In its 10-Q earnings filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, bebe reported e-commerce comparable-sales growth of 18.3% year over year for fiscal Q2 2016. The retailer doesn’t break out online sales figures in its earnings reports.

Sales for the quarter came in at $122.4 million, down 5.0% from $128.9 million during the same time last year. Perhaps more telling, bebe posted a comparable-store sales decrease of 2.5% during the quarter compared with a gain of 8.0% last year.

Through the first six months of fiscal 2016, bebe reported net revenue of $218.7 million, down 5.4% from $231.1 million from the year-ago period. Comparable-store sales dropped 3.2% compared with a 4.7% gain in the same period of fiscal 2015. 




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