Blog: Leonie BarrieRecruitment challenges

Leonie Barrie | 17 October 2006

The appointment of an industry outsider to head up Liz Claiborne highlights an all too common problem in this sector: the lack of outstanding specialty fashion retailing talent. More and more firms are being forced to widen their recruitment searches to include general consumer goods companies as it becomes increasingly apparent that not only is there a shortage of top-level candidates, but that all the good ones are tied into their current roles. Two recent examples show that while there are no guarantees that any CEO will bring immediate success, it perhaps makes sense to take on somebody who at least knows the industry he or she will be dealing with.

One of the most memorable instances of this cross-sector hiring came in 2002 when Gap hired Walt Disney Co’s Paul Pressler to replace outgoing CEO Mickey Drexler. However, four years later Gap is still struggling to find a way out of its woes – although in all fairness it has to be said that the business was already haemorrhaging money while Drexler was at the helm.

And more recently, shaving gel guru William Perez, a 34-year SC Johnson veteran, resigned after just 13 months as president and chief executive of Nike, citing leadership differences with company founder Phil Knight. Having got its fingers burned once, Nike chose seasoned veteran Mark Parker to fill the post left vacant by Perez.

Liz Claiborne names new CEO


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