Byline: David Moin With contributions from Miles Socha and Vicki M. Young
Long Search Is Over: Mark Lee Named CEO At Barneys New York
Barneys New York is no longer rudderless.
Confirming an exclusive report in WWD on Aug. 5, Barneys on Monday named Mark Lee chief executive officer, ending a 26-month-long search for a person to fill the retailer's top slot.
The appointment immediately sparked speculation over the future of the luxury chain, which, like most retailers, has struggled with the economic downturn as well as a series of its own unique issues. Likely to be among the priorities on Lee's agenda:
Staunching the red ink at the retailer, which reportedly will approach $60 million this year;
Evaluating the store fleet to determine if any should be closed, since some of the flagships and Co-ops underperform;
Building a focused growth plan for the Co-op division;
Bolstering an already sharp, upscale, irreverent image;
Taking Barneys international.
But in tapping Lee, Barneys has recruited a veteran with international experience whom many consider one of the best in the luxury sector.
"Mark is a dedicated brand manager, an expert marketer and an inspiring executive. His passion and enthusiasm will guide Barney's to new levels of success," said Robert Polet, president and ceo of Gucci Group.
"Mark is very capable and very competent. He's one of the best managers available," said Domenico De Sole, chairman of Tom Ford International and the former ceo of Gucci Group who put Lee at the helm of Yves Saint Laurent in 1999.
No one is underplaying the challenges Lee faces, however.
"Mark has got to be strategic," said one former luxury executive who knows him. "He must come in and look at Barneys like a fresh canvas. Everybody knows Barneys has three winning doors and that some of the rest are not …