Christopher & Banks CEO LuAnn Via Fired
LuAnn Via was CEO of Christopher & Banks for the past four years, but on Tuesday, a recently overhauled board of directors fired her after sales took an unexpected downward turn during the holidays. Via was hired from Payless ShoeSource in November 2012, and will be leaving Christopher & Banks with a $850,000 severance, an amount equal to her annual base salary, and be paid for accrued vacation and other incentives. She will be replaced on a interim basis by Joel Walker, the former CEO of Wet Seal and Wilsons Leather. Walker also served as interim CEO of Christopher & Banks in 2012 before Via was hired.
Total Retail’s Take: This news comes seven months after Christopher & Banks named four new members to its board of directors and six directors exited as part of a “support agreement” reached with an activist shareholder, Jonathan Duskin of New York-based Macellum Capital Management. The company also announced that Chairwoman Lisa Wardell resigned last week and is being replaced by new board member Kent Kleeberger. Christopher & Banks’ sales are falling and with this shakeup at the top, it might be difficult for the women’s apparel retailer to find its footing again.