WARRENDALE, Pa. — JUNE 13, 2018 — r21 Holdings Inc. (rue21) has appointed Laurie Van Brunt president and CEO effective June 25, 2018. Also announced today, Michele Pascoe has been named senior vice president and CFO, and Stephen Sommers has been named senior vice president and chief marketing officer.
Van Brunt joins rue21 from Chico’s FAS Inc, where she was president of Soma Intimates from 2010 to 2017. At Soma, she led the transformation of the company by repositioning the brand as an omni-channel intimates brand and elevating the fashion aesthetic to fill an opportunity in the market, growing sales from $87 million to $350 million
Prior to Chico’s, Van Brunt was corporate vice president, director of Private Brand Management at J. C. Penney Company Inc. from 2005-2010, where she managed the company’s private brand portfolio of 22 brands across all merchandise categories. She led teams of over 200 people per brand with over $7 billion in sales in 1,090 stores. Earlier in her career she was senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Chadwick’s of Boston; executive vice president and general merchandise manager at the Lane Bryant division of The Limited Inc., and vice president and general merchandise manager at Casual Corner-Petite Sophisticate.
Van Brunt succeeds Michael C. Appel who was named Interim CEO in October 2017. Appel will continue to serve as chairman of the Board.
In making today’s announcement, Appel said, “We are very pleased to have Laurie join rue21 to lead our management team. She is a proven results-oriented leader within all aspects of the business who has successfully led, built and turned around specialty store apparel brands. With our increased financing in place, Laurie’s leadership, our new senior team, and the utilization of innovative data analytics to drive our business, we are confident that rue21 will be an even stronger brand that delivers outstanding growth and profit.”
Pascoe joins rue21 from Alvarez & Marsal, a financial consulting firm, where she provided financial advisory services for various retail organizations. Prior to Alvarez and Marsal, from 2013-2017, Pascoe was the chief administration officer and CFO of Marsh Supermarkets LLC, a privately- held grocery chain with sales of $850 million. From 2009 to 2013, Pascoe was senior vice president and CFO of Charming Shoppes/Fashion Bug Division, a publicly-held 800 store missy/plus apparel chain with sales of $600 million. She also served as the CFO and COO from 2007-2009 at Rachel Ashwell Designs/Shabby Chic, a high-end branded home furnishings retail and wholesale business with both licensing and manufacturing arms.
She began her fashion business career at the Warnaco Group in 1989. She remained in the company assuming progressively more senior positions in the intimates, sportswear, and swimwear brands.
About Pascoe’s appointment, Appel said: “Michele is a savvy financial executive experienced in delivering financial and operational improvements and leading change initiatives. Her innovative financial leadership in high volume, highly competitive multi-unit retail environments, and direct, hands-on experience will be invaluable as we move rue21 financially and operationally to the next level.”
Pascoe succeeds Stephen Coulombe who was named Interim CFO in March 2018.
Most recently, Sommers was chief marketing officer at Vineyard Vines, a $400+ million specialty retail and wholesale apparel brand with approximately 100 stores, a robust website, and a growing wholesale business. Leading the marketing team responsible for brand strategy, creative production, channel marketing, category marketing, CRM, PR, digital, social, corporate philanthropy, sponsorships and events, he Increased overall brand awareness and engagement while driving top line growth.
Prior to Vineyard Vines, Sommers was vice president Global Brand Marketing from 2012 to 2016 at Under Armour Inc., the sports apparel company, where he focused on brand marketing by both category and lifestyle, and delivered major campaigns for bricks and mortar, digital and Ecommerce, as well as building categories such as footwear. During the years he was vice president Global Brand Marketing, the business grew from $1.5 billion to $5 billion. Before his fashion retail business experience, Sommers had a successful 15- year career in consumer electronics marketing at such companies as Sony Electronics Inc. and Toshiba Computer Systems.
In making today’s announcement about Sommers’ appointment, Appel said, “Steve has the strong ability to create brands, drive growth, and build teams and motivate talent. As our marketing leader, Steve has the ideal combination of creative marketing skills and savvy analytics to build the rue brand and engage our target customers.”
Posted June 13, 2018