The Spiegel Group announced that Richard T. Fersch, president and chief executive officer of its Eddie Bauer division, has elected to retire from the company effective today.
"We appreciate Rick's unwavering enthusiasm and steadfast dedication over the past 14 years and the significant contributions he has made to the company," commented Martin Zaepfel, The Spiegel Group's vice chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Under Rick's leadership, Eddie Bauer has evolved from a regional U.S. retailer into an international, tri-channel retailer, with sales growing from $900 million to more than $1.6 billion. The Eddie Bauer brand now is known worldwide and is consistently ranked among the most recognized retail brands."
Commenting on his future plans, Fersch stated, "I plan to pursue a broad range of opportunities, which include serving as an advisor, consultant and community activist."
Fersch, 52, joined Eddie Bauer in 1988 as vice president of retail stores. He subsequently held positions as senior vice president of stores, executive vice president of merchandising, marketing and advertising, and chief operating officer. Fersch was named president in 1993 and in 1997, he was promoted to president and chief executive officer.
In conjunction with this announcement, the company has hired a national search firm to find a replacement. During a transition period, Fersch will continue to work with the company to run the day-to-day operations and Martin Zaepfel will oversee all planning and strategic initiatives. "I am confident that this transition plan will allow the management team to remain focused on identifying and executing initiatives to improve Eddie Bauer's performance," stated Zaepfel.
The company also announced that Eddie Bauer has realigned its organizational structure to ensure greater consistency in its brand message and customer experience across all marketing channels. Steve Newman, president of the Eddie Bauer apparel division, has assumed additional responsibility for all creative services and sourcing. Prior to this change, Newman was responsible for all aspects of the Eddie Bauer apparel business including merchandising, planning and inventory management, and design and development. Newman joined Eddie Bauer in September of 2000 and has played a critical role in the company's efforts to revamp its merchandise offer and brand positioning.
In addition, the company recently named Mark Staudinger vice president of marketing. Staudinger joined Eddie Bauer in 1992 as manager of information services application and most recently served as vice president of direct media. Staudinger became part of Eddie Bauer's interactive media team in 1999 and was instrumental in establishing eddiebauer.com as an award-winning Web site.
The company also announced that it has hired Paul Keur as vice president of sourcing and production. Keur will report to Steve Newman and brings 15 years of sourcing experience. He most recently served as managing director of sourcing for Eddie Bauer International, Inc. in Miami.
The Spiegel Group is a leading international specialty retailer marketing fashionable apparel and home furnishings to customers through catalogs, more than 600 specialty retail and outlet stores and eight e-commerce sites, including eddiebauer.com, newport-news.com and spiegel.com. The Spiegel Group's businesses include Eddie Bauer, Newport News, Spiegel and First Consumers National Bank. The company's Class A Non-Voting Common Stock trades on the NASDAQ National Market System under the ticker symbol: SPGLA. Investor relations information is available on The Spiegel Group Web site (thespiegelgroup.com).
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