Chico's FAS Sold to Private Equity Firm, CEO Molly Langenstein to Depart
Chico's FAS Inc. shareholders approved the sale of the fashion company for $1 billion cash to New York-based private equity firm Sycamore Partners, reports News-Press. New owner Sycamore Partners has moved Chico’s brands — Chico's, White House Black Market, and Soma — into KnitWell, a holding company formed last year. KnitWell also includes Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Talbots, and provides services to plus-size specialty retailer Lane Bryant.
Chico's FAS CEO Molly Langenstein is leaving the company now that the sale is complete, according to a letter to employees obtained by The News-Press. Langenstein was appointed to the chief executive role in 2020 after leading Chico’s FAS' two largest brands, Chico’s and White House Black Market. She stabilized the conglomerate following years of sliding sales and leadership upsets. No official announcement of her departure has yet been made by Langenstein or the company.
Total Retail's Take: It's unclear if Langenstein's departure was a decision made by her, Sycamore Partners or by mutual agreement, but she ensured that Chico's FAS was setup well for continued growth with a new owner before leaving her post. She came to Chico's FAS after 30 years at Macy's, becoming CEO during the COVID-19 pandemic and a tumultuous time of corporate restructuring, store closures and cost-cutting measures at the company. Langenstein brought the company out of decline, increasing revenue to $2.14 billion in 2023. Commenting on Chico's FAS' acquisition, Langenstein said in a company press release last week: "Joining the Sycamore portfolio of leading retail brands marks an important milestone for Chico's FAS and continues our journey as a customer-led, product-obsessed, digital-first, and operationally excellent company. We look forward to working together to reach even greater levels of success."
Sycamore Partners had been trying to buy Chico's FAS since 2019. With the addition of Chico's, White House Black Market and Soma, KnitWell's brands generate approximately $6 billion in annual sales, "further solidifying its position as one of the largest specialty apparel companies in the United States," the company stated in a press release. Lizanne Kindler, executive chair and CEO of KnitWell Group, commented, "Chico's, White House Black Market, and Soma fit perfectly into the portfolio as established and inspiring brands that generate sustainable, high-quality results."
Kristina Stidham is the digital content director at Total Retail and sister brands Women in Retail Leadership Circle and Women Leading Travel & Hospitality at NAPCO Media. She is passionate about digital media and handles video, podcast and virtual event production for all brands. You can often find her at WIRLC, TR, WLT&H or industry events with her camera and podcasting equipment—or at home on Zoom—recording interviews with thought leaders and business executives.
Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia. Go Owls! When she's not in the office, she loves to go on long walks, sing around the house, hangout with her family and two pet guinea pigs, and travel to new places.