bebe’s interim CEO shuts down its unprofitable 2b brand and lays off workers

July 2, 2014 12:07 PM

On, all products are an additional 75% off today, as bebe stores Inc. is unloading inventory in advance of shutting down the unprofitable 2b brand of discount women’s apparel. The closure, which will be completed by the end of this week, affects 16 physical stores and an e-commerce site.

The 16 mall-based stores and e-commerce business are expected to generate losses of $5 or $6 million in fiscal 2014, which ends July 5, bebe says. In shutting down the brand, the retailer expects to save $9 million or $10 million in the coming fiscal year.

The merchant also began implementing a cost-reduction program that includes layoffs. The workforce reduction impacted around 9% of the retailer’s non-store employees, excluding the distribution center, and less than 1% of its store operations team. The retailer did not disclose the exact number of employees that were let go.

"Through the closing of our unprofitable 2b brand, and the cost-reduction program, we will be better positioned financially and structurally to focus on our core bebe brand,” says Jim Wiggett, interim CEO. “Our objective is to drive long-term growth and sustainable profitability. We will also continue to focus on our merchandising, marketing and operational strategies designed to reposition the bebe brand.”

In mid-June, bebe’s CEO Steve Birkhold resigned for undisclosed reasons. He had held the position since early 2013. Wiggett is serving as interim CEO while the retailer searches for a replacement.

For the third quarter ended April 5, 2014, bebe reported a 17.2% year-over-year decline in net sales—to $93.5 million from $112.9 million. It also closed six bebe stores during the quarter and reported a net loss of $49.3 million.

Bebe is No. 410 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.




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