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Forever 21’s New CEO Spent 20 Years in Fast Fashion at H&M

Forever 21 has a new chief executive just a week after the post-bankruptcy fast-fashion chain revealed its search for a CEO.

Former H&M North America president Daniel Kulle is taking the reins at Forever 21, effective immediately. He will relocate from New York to the company’s base in Los Angeles.

Kulle most recently was a strategic advisor to former H&M Group CEO Karl-Johan Persson, and served as a steering group member for three new digital startups within the H&M Group. He boasts more than 20 years of experience coaching top teams and driving growth in the fashion industry.

During his two-decade career at H&M, Kulle expanded the Swedish fast-fashion retailer’s brick-and-mortar and e-commerce presence in existing and new markets across North America. And under his leadership, H&M’s North American sales quadrupled from $1 billion to $4 billion annually. Kulle also opened 600 stores and developed integrated e-commerce platforms in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

In his new role at Forever 21, Kulle is expected to focus on seamless retailing, strengthen the chain’s loyalty program, and elevate the in-store journey through unique experiences including popup events and buzzworthy brand collaborations.

“Daniel is a well-respected, progressive fashion executive, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the team,” Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and CEO of Authentic Brands Group, said.

ABG names Daniel Kulle, former H&M North America executive, its new CEO for Forever 21, the fast-fashion chain it acquired last week.
Daniel Kulle H&M

ABG, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Group closed last week on an $81 million deal to salvage Forever 21 from of bankruptcy proceedings after the fast-fashion chain filed its voluntary petition in September. The deal includes the assumption of some liabilities and orders for goods in transit, bringing its total value closer to the $300 million range. The sale also ended the tenure of co-founders Do Won and Jin Sook Chang and their two daughters, who are no longer involved in the restructured operation.

The retailer’s roughly 448 U.S. stores will continue operating, and 145 doors overseas are being converted to franchised operations.

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“Forever 21 enjoys strong brand awareness and affinity, a clear consumer set, and quick-to-market capabilities, allowing the brand to be nimble and leverage key trends and create strong value for its customers,” Kulle said. “The strong ownership structure, which combines ABG’s marketing prowess with Simon and Brookfield’s retail real estate expertise, creates a foundation for long-term growth.”

“Knowing Daniel personally for several years, I’ve seen his tenacious working style first-hand. His strategic vision and experience will build on Forever 21’s heritage and undoubtedly usher in a new era for the brand,” Simon chairman and CEO David Simon said.