Andrew Clarke Named President and CEO of Francesca's Holdings
Francesca's Holdings Corp. last week announced the appointment of Andrew Clarke as president, chief executive officer and member of the board, effective March 9. Clarke replaces Michael Prendergast, who has served as interim CEO for the past year. Clarke, who was most recently president of Ascena Retail apparel brand Loft, has 25 years of retail experience, much of it in apparel. Prior to Loft, Clarke was executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Justice, also owned by Ascena Retail Group. In both roles, he delivered strong sales growth in stores and e-commerce channels through leading digital technology and customer insights initiatives. In a statement, Rich Emmett, Francesca’s chairman of the board said, "we believe Andrew’s proven track record in specialty retail, including successful transformation initiatives, combined with his experience across merchandising, sourcing, planning and allocation, and consumer insights, make him an excellent choice to lead the Francesca’s brand."
Total Retail's Take: Francesca's, like many specialty apparel retailers, has had a few difficult years. However, by closing stores and instituting a reverse stock split over the past several months, net sales seem to have stabilized for the time being. But that doesn't mean Clarke won't have a variety of challenges when he starts his job at Francesca's. After all, most retailers today are carefully watching China tariffs, as well as what the impact of the coronavirus will be on the retail industry and the economy in general. Furthermore, a continuing shift away from retail stores and malls by consumers in 2020 is another trend that Clarke will have to be prepared to deal with.