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The Wet Seal installs new chief executive

Former board member John Goodman will lead the company through Jan. 2016

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: January 09, 2013 02:15 PM

The Wet Seal Inc., the Foothill Ranch-based company that owns the chain of trendy teen apparel stores of the same name, has hired one of its board members to serve as chief executive officer. Apparel industry veteran John D. Goodman has signed a three-year contract to lead the company.

Goodman said he has always considered Wet Seal as a pioneer of “fast fashion.” "I am honored to have this opportunity to work with the company's executives and associates in both merchandising and operations and return the brand to its roots and drive long-term success. I am delighted to work with our Board and the existing management team in restoring profitability while pursuing new avenues for growth and building overall shareholder value."

Goodman joined the company’s board in September last year, along with Kathy Bronstein. Both were elected to the board as independent directors during a time of upheaval at Wet Seal. Following the appointment of Susan McGalla as CEO in Jan. 2011, the brand has seen comparable store sales declines of 4 to 18 percent every month in 2012, accompanied by key officer and board member resignations. The board of directors terminated McGalla’s employment in July 2012 and the company has been without a CEO since.

Goodman brings 25 years of experience in the apparel industry to his new position, with a resume that includes Gap Inc., Mervyn’s and Bloomindales. He formerly served as CEO of Charlotte Russe, a juniors’ retail brand with sales of more than $800 million, where he is credited with leading the company’s turnaround and doubling its stock price. Most recently, he held the role of executive vice president and chief apparel and home officer for Sears Holdings.

Lynda Davey, who was part of the board’s CEO search committee, said that during Goodman’s work as a director of the board, he demonstrated a strong working relationship with the company’s executives, which will advance operational improvement and prospects for profit growth.

“We found John's energy and passion for the fashion industry and, in particular, his understanding of the junior customer perfectly aligned with the attributes we were seeking in a chief executive officer,” Davey said. “He is a team builder and has a proven record of success as a CEO, and expertise in the teen fashion apparel specialty business.”

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