Pence Retakes Coldwater Top Spot

Dennis Pence, the founder of women’s apparel cataloger/retailer Coldwater Creek, reclaimed the CEO position in late September. He replaced Georgia Shonk-Simmons, who retains her role as president and board member while taking on the duties of chief merchandise officer.

“This marks a return to a structure that worked very well in Coldwater Creek’s corporate history,” Pence said in a statement. “My personal charge is returning the company to our days of rapid growth.” (No company officials would comment on the restructuring.) Shonk-Simmons, a former Newport News executive vice president who joined Coldwater Creek as vice president/director of merchandising in 1998, was promoted to president of the Sandpoint, ID-based company in April 1999; she was named CEO in January 2001.

This type of management restructuring isn’t common, notes Kevin Silverman, a retail analyst at Chicago-based investment management firm ABN AMRO, “but it’s also brave to ignore what your critics might say and do what’s right for the company. Dennis is an ROI-based guy, not a merchant. So when you’re going through losses, I’m not sure that someone whose skills are merchandising can find ways to cut costs and tweak spending and budgets.”

Coldwater’s catalog sales for the fiscal year ended March 2, 2002, were $400.8 million, down nearly 6% from $424.3 million the previous year on a 12% decline in circulation. Overall, the marketer’s sales were flat for its second quarter ended Aug. 31 at $92.8 million. But the company took a $650,000 net loss, compared to net income of $1.3 million for the same quarter last year.

The management reshuffle is Coldwater Creek’s second top-level change this year: Executive vice president/chief financial officer Donald Robson resigned in January; former Arthur Andersen senior partner Melvin Dick replaced him in June. Even with the management overhaul, Coldwater has its work cut out for it. Silverman notes that the economy today is far weaker than it was back in the more robust days of Coldwater’s rapid growth. “And with catalog/Internet sales down over the past year, the company, like many others, is under a lot of cost pressure.

Partner Content

3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Build the Foundation for Great Customer Experiences - NetSuite
Understand how consistent, timely, relevant and personalized experiences are enabled by having the right technology foundation in place.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.

Pence Retakes Coldwater Top Spot

Concerned over the company’s stagnant growth over the past several years, women’s apparel cataloger/retailer Coldwater Creek founder Dennis Pence retook the CEO position in late September. He replaces Georgia Shonk-Simmons, who retains her role as president, board member, while adding additional duties as chief merchandise officer.

Shonk-Simmons, a former Newport News executive vice president who joined Coldwater Creek as vice president/director of merchandising in 1998, was promoted to president of the Sandpoint, ID-based company in April 1999, then added the CEO title in January 2001.

“This marks a return to a structure that worked very well in Coldwater Creek’s corporate history,” said Pence in a statement. “My personal charge is returning the company to our days of rapid growth. As we grow the brand through catalogs, over the Internet, and, increasingly, with the expansion of our retail store base across the country, I’ll leverage my sales and marketing experience and place additional emphasis on improving our return on invested capital and operating earnings.” (No company officials would comment on the restructuring.)

It’s unusual to see this type of management restructuring happen, “but it’s also brave to ignore what your critics might say and do what’s right for the company,” observes Kevin Silverman, a retail analyst at Chicago-based investment management firm ABN AMRO.

“Dennis is an ROI-based guy, not a merchant,” Silverman says. “So when you’re going through losses, I’m not sure that someone whose skills are merchandising can find ways to cut costs, and tweak spending and budgets. This is a capital-rich company that has a lot of flexibility, and Dennis is going to make some choices that Georgia may have made differently because they have different skill sets.”

During Shonk-Simmons’s 20-plus months as CEO, the company’s stock price nearly halved from $28.44 on Jan. 2, 2001 to $14.70 on Sept. 26, 2002. Catalog sales for the company’s fiscal year 2001 ended March 2, 2002 dropped to $400.8 million compared to $424.3 million in fiscal 2000. Catalog circulation was reduced 12.3% during the year, however.

Partner Content

3 Critical Components to Achieving the Perfect Order - NetSuite
Explore the 3 critical components to delivering the perfect order.
Streamlining Unified Commerce Complexity - NetSuite
Explore how consolidating multiple systems through a cloud-based commerce platform provides a seamless experience for both you, and your customer.
Build the Foundation for Great Customer Experiences - NetSuite
Understand how consistent, timely, relevant and personalized experiences are enabled by having the right technology foundation in place.
Strategies for Maximizing Mobile Point-of-Sale Technology - NetSuite
Learn the top five innovative ways to utilize your mobile POS technology to drive customer engagement, increase sales and elevate your brand.