Chico's Announces New CEO, Cost-Cutting Measures
Chico’s FAS has promoted division president Molly Langenstein to president and CEO. The appointment of Langenstein, who had been president of the company’s two largest brands, Chico’s and White House Black Market, since August, is effective June 24. She will be replacing Bonnie Brooks, president and CEO of Chico's FAS, who joined the company last July. Brooks will become executive chair of the board and continue to oversee the company's strategic direction.
Chico's FAS also announced several other changes, many of which are designed to cut costs to help improve the challenged retailer's bottom line. A corporate restructuring led to the departures of Intimates Group President Mary van Praag and Chief Operations Officer Ann Joyce. In addition, the company shuttered 250 stores in 2019, and it's expected that further closures could be on the horizon, particularly as the impact of COVID-19 is realized in coming weeks and months.
Total Retail's Take: The future of Chico's FAS, and many other specialty apparel retailers that have been forced to close stores during the coronavirus pandemic, remains very much in doubt. Even with new leadership, the same old problems remain — and they've only been accentuated in the last month-plus. Chico's has struggled to attract new, younger customers to the brand, and diminished demand for its dressier outfits in the face of social distancing policies puts in a precarious position. For her part, Langenstein has experience working for a distressed retailer, as she came to Chico's FAS after 30 years at Macy's. Her first order of business will be rolling out a reopening plan for Chico's FAS brands' (Chico's, Soma, White House Black Market) stores.