Tapestry CEO Jide Zeitlin is vacating his post effective immediately, marking the company’s third chief executive change in less than a year.
Zeitlin is resigning for personal reasons, the parent to Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman said Tuesday, just weeks before it’s scheduled to report fourth-quarter results on Aug. 13 and outline “long-term growth strategies.” Chief financial officer Joanne Crevoiserat will fill in as interim CEO while Tapestry searches for a permanent replacement.
Zeitlin’s departure and tenure—first as interim CEO last September following the exit of former CEO Victor Luis and then as CEO this past March—came at a time of upheaval at the company and across the world. Tapestry had been struggling when Luis departed, mostly with product and production issues at its Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade brands. The company, when it was still known as Coach Inc. before its rebranding, acquired Stuart Weitzman in 2015 for $574 million and Kate Spade in 2017 for $2.4 billion. Zeitlin spearheaded executive changes at Tapestry, promoting Giorgio Sarné as CEO and brand president of Stuart Weitzman and appointing Liz Fraser as CEO and brand president of Kate Spade in February.
His tenure also marked the departure of Coach CEO and brand president Joshua Schulman in March, the same month Zeitlin, after having been named chairman and CEO of Tapestry, said he has committed to leading the group for the next three years.
The coronavirus outbreak quickly followed these corporate changes, forcing the company to lay off 2,100 part-time employees in April before reporting a $667.1 million third-quarter loss as a result of temporary store shutdowns—its first adjusted loss in 20 years as a public company. Tapestry also warned it would slash jobs at corporate and at stores, especially for those that were unable to reopen by June 1.
To its credit, Tapestry was among the few fashion companies that kept store associates on its payroll longer than its competitors. At the time of the third-quarter earnings report, Zeitlin said the company’s diversified supply chain was “in good order.”
A June 21 interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” addressed Zeitlin’s status at one of just four African-American Fortune 500 CEOs; Marvin Ellison had briefly served as CEO of J.C. Penney before returning to his hard-goods roots as chief executive of home improvement chain Lowe’s. Diversity remains an immediate imperative that will help Tapestry’s workforce accurately reflect America’s demographics, Zeitlin said, while inclusion fosters a culture “that encourages people to fully show up as themselves.”
Zeitlin, who had been on Tapestry’s board since 2006 and its chairman since 2014, was working on a multi-year growth strategy to evolve the company into a “truly consumer-centric and data-driven organization.” How those plans have developed will likely be discussed during the company update on Aug. 13, this time headed by Crevoiserat, who joined the company in August and was previously executive vice president and chief operating officer at Abercrombie & Fitch, where she had also served as chief financial officer. Her experience also includes senior-level stints with Kohl’s, Wal-Mart Stores and May Department Stores.
In other changes, the board’s lead independent director Susan Kropf takes on the role of chairman, while Todd Kahn, chief administrative officer and company secretary, also serves as interim CEO and brand president of Coach, a role Zeitlin assumed after the departure of Schulman while the company continues its search for a new brand president. Andrea Shaw Resnick, who heads up investor relations and corporate communications, will assume the interim CFO position, a role she’s held twice before during the firm’s previous CFO searches.