Struggling apparel retailer The Wet Seal brings back its former e-commerce chief

October 1, 2014 10:09 AM

The Wet Seal is looking to the web to fight declining sales of its clothing for young adults, and it’s bringing back its former e-commerce chief to help with the task. Jon Kubo has been appointed as executive vice president and chief digital officer for Wet Seal, a newly created position, the retailer announced yesterday.

Kubo returns to Wet Seal after having served as head of e-commerce from 2005 through 2011  and chief information officer. The move comes less than a month after the merchant announced it was bringing back it former CEO Edmond Thomas, who led the company during Kubo’s previous tenure, from 2007 to 2011.

“I am excited to bring Jon back to lead our critically important e-commerce business, along with digital marketing and information technology,” Thomas says. “Jon’s tremendous vision and innovative leadership during his prior Wet Seal tenure resulted in the most successful e-commerce performance in the company’s history. We are confident that Jon’s expertise will return us to the forefront as an e-commerce leader within the teen retail space.”

Since 2011, Kubo served as chief product officer at social commerce platform company 8th Bridge Inc., which was acquired by web development firm Fluid Inc. in April. Prior to joining Wet Seal in 2005, Kubo held several positions at toy retailer FAO Schwarz, including chief administrative officer.

Wet Seal sales have suffered in recent years amid declining foot traffic in malls. The merchant brought in $520.1 million in total sales in fiscal 2013, down from $580.4 million in 2012 and $620.1 million in 2011. In April 2014, the retailer shuttered Arden B-branded stores and e-commerce properties. In March of this year, Wet Sealannounced it had raised $27 million to help it adjust to a “changing retail environment,” and said it planned to increase its focus on social and digital marketing.

Its e-commerce sales have been declining since Kubo’s exit as well. The merchant brought in an Internet Retailer-estimated $31.8 million in online sales in 2013, down 8.7% from $34.8 million in 2012. Wet Seal is ranked No. 416 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. In comparison, the 138 other apparel merchants ranked in the Top 500 grew combined e-commerce revenue 20.0% in 2013, and U.S. e-commerce sales as a whole grew 16.9% in 2013, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

However, in its most recent quarter, Wet Seal’s web channel showed signs of improvement—e-commerce sales increased 25.1% for the Wet Seal brand in the period ended Aug. 2, 2014. Wet Seal signed on with e-commerce platform provider Demandware in the second quarter 2013.




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