The largest groups in the sector undertake the twenties with new leaders, who will have to face a challenging era, marked by external instability and the sector’s own transformation.
A new era with new captains. The biggest companies in the fashion business, from sports to cosmetics, start the new era with new bosses in the lead. Executives such as Carlos Crespo, John Donahoe, Carlos Alberini or John Mehas will have to lead ships in troubled waters, under the storm of deceleration and in full transformation of the sector.
Carlos Crespo: demonstrates that Morgan Stanley was in the wrong
Carlos Crespo was appointed in 2019 as CEO of Inditex, after being promoted to director of operations a year earlier. The executive, with more experience in the company than its president, Pablo Isla, must lead one of the greatest transformations Inditex has faced in its history, marked by digitalization.
Until its stock market rally at the end of the year, few analysts had doubts about the Spanish group's continuous potential growth. Morgan Stanley was one of the toughest houses with the Spanish group, anticipating a fall in the group’s profits in the medium term.
Robert J. Fisher: recover the podium of fashion distribution
Just a decade ago, Gap was the number one fashion distribution in the world, ahead of H&M and Inditex. Ten years later, the company left the ranking and faces an uncertain future after the departure of its CEO, Art Peck, at the end of 2019.
For the time being, Robert J. Fisher has taken the reins of the group on an interim basis, son of the founders of the American group. The challenge is titanic: Gap has been immersed in restructuring for years, with a commodity that has lost connection with customers and much exposure to the US market, consequently exposing Gap to vulnerabilities and a potential recession. One way out for the group would be the split of Old Navy, Peck’s big project, which would give him fuel but would definitely take the American company out of the fashion giants’ ranking.
John Donahoe: continue to grow even after the ceiling has been reached
Nike has the wind behind its back: it is the leader in one of the few sectors of the growing fashion, sport. But just the tailwind will not suffice to continue driving a titan that bills more than 43 billion dollars a year.
John Donahoe takes over from Mark Parker, one of the most veteran executives in the Oregon group, without a single year of experience in the sports sector. The new CEO of Nike has developed the majority of his career in the technology sector and was for seven years eBay's first executive.
Patrick Frisk: battle in a giants’ arena
This year, Patrick Frisk undertakes the direction of Under Armor after the departure of its founder, Kevin Plank, who has led it since 1996. Frisk joined the group in 2017 after more than thirty years of experience in retail and, until 2019, he was director of operations.
The manager takes the reins of Under Armor at a difficult time, after closing 2018 in losses and with very moderate growth. The group also faces a battle of giants, dominated at a great distance by Nike and Adidas.
John Mehas: take Victoria’s Secret back to the intimate heaven
John Mehas took over the reins of Victoria's Secret last year during its worst time since Leslie Wexner bought the company in 1982. The group faces a perfect storm that includes continued controversies for its lack of diversity and the comments of its managers, a product that has lost the sex appeal, an installed overcapacity of stores and late digitization.
Mehas is the first man to direct the American giant of the intimate apparel wear after Grace Nichols, Sharen Jester Turney and Jan Singer, and the first since 1995 that will not have the biggest marketing weapon of the brand, its fashion show, which was canceled in 2019. Before his signing with Victoria’s Secret, the director was president of Tory Burch and CEO of Polo Ralph Lauren.
Elizabeth Cunin: continue to compete in the ‘low cost’ kingdom
Elisabeth Cunin joined Kiabi in 2019 as the first executive, after an extensive career in the sector with companies such as Vivarte, Etam, Fast Retailing or Camaïeu, where she was until recently CEO.
The board will lead one of the kings of low cost, a sector with great challenges ahead. Although the French group does not reveal its revenue, its rival, Primark, continues to grow thanks to the openings but suffers from profitability, forced to keep prices low in the mid of a price war in the sector and with the volatility of currencies.
Carlos Alberini: return to the pathway of profitability
Guess began a new phase in 2019 with the appointment of Carlos Alberini as the new CEO. Alberini had already worked at the company between 2000 and 2010 as general manager of operations and subsequently went through Restoration Hardware and Lucky Brand. The executive relieved the Spanish Victor Herrero in Guess, who had captained the US group in 2015.
Alberini has the challenge of returning Guess to a pathway of profitability, for which it has drawn up a five-year plan that goes through strengthening the brand, putting the consumer in the center, growing abroad, enhancing the product range and improving logistics, procurement and management, and inventory.
Marta Álvarez: find the gap of El Corte Inglés in the new retail scenario
She won the internal conflict and now it’s her turn to lead. Marta Álvarez, daughter of Isidoro Álvarez, was appointed in 2019 as the president of El Corte Inglés after imposing herself on her cousin, Dimas Gimeno. Now, the executive has to pilot the next stage of the largest European group of department stores, which carries a large debt and an over-extended network of stores.
At the end of the year, the board of directors announced its strategy for the company, which is based on its commitment to its brands, digital transformation and the development of new businesses and services.