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Bebe Announces CEO Change, Cuts 15% of Corporate Workforce

Spring cleaning has come early for retailers, it seems, as many are clearing out jobs and stores that aren’t boosting the bottom line and shaking up executive teams in an effort to get back to better business.

Specialty retailer Bebe was the latest to announce high-level shifts, reporting Friday that Bebe founder and chairman Manny Mashouf would return as the company’s CEO and former COO and CFO Walter Parks would come back on as president, COO and interim CFO.

Bebe’s most recent CEO Jim Wiggett and CFO Liyuan Woo (who had succeeded Parks when he departed in 2013) are no longer with the company.

“I am extremely pleased to be returning to bebe as CEO. I also look forward to working with Walter as his deep financial knowledge, as well as his long history with the bebe brand, make him a great addition to our team,” Mashouf said. “We believe the changes we are implementing will enable us to become a leaner and more nimble organization, allowing us to increase our focus on profitability while enhancing our product offering.”

Part of the path to leanness involves cutting back on close to 15 percent of its corporate staff.

Roughly 45 positions will be eliminated across design, merchandising, production and IT. Bebe said it will streamline its design and merchandising teams and reduce support functions in “recognition of the rationalization of the store base.”

Bebe operates 151 retail stores and 38 outlet stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, and sells Bebe branded goods in close to 100 doors in more than 20 countries.

The retailer said the restructuring will result in a one-time severance charge of roughly $3.7 million in the third quarter of this fiscal year, but that the reductions should yield cost savings close to $6 million.

“We recognize that the overall macro environment has not been favorable to retailers in general, which is why we are taking steps that we believe are necessary to position the business for long-term success,” Mashouf added.

This month also saw J.C. Penney adjust its executive product development and sourcing roles, Kohl’s cut three jobs at its headquarters and Victoria’s Secret’s CEO suddenly resign.