Fort Wayne-based Vera Bradley Inc. (Nasdaq: VRA) says President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Wallstrom will be retiring and also announced cost-cutting measures that could include layoffs. Wallstrom, who has served as CEO since 2013, says he will stay on until his replacement is named, which is expected to be in early 2023.
During his time at the helm, Wallstrom oversaw the acquisition of California-based brand Pure Vida, which sells hand-crafted bracelets and jewelry. He also guided the company through the retail crush caused by the global pandemic.
The company has launched a national search for the next CEO.
“As we search for Rob’s successor, we are in the desirable position of having two strong, iconic brands – Vera Bradley and Pura Vida – with loyal and dedicated customer bases, a solid balance sheet, and a talented leadership team. The Board takes very seriously its responsibility to find the right CEO who will continue our focus on building consistent, sustainable growth over the long term,” said Robert Hall, chairman of the board of directors. “The next CEO also will have to successfully manage through this challenging economic period, including overseeing implementation of our cost reduction initiatives which will better position us for the future.”
The company says it is also undergoing a “comprehensive cost-reduction and efficiency process,” in conjunction with its first quarter financial results. Last month, Vera Bradley reported a net loss of $7 million, which was a widening of the $2 million loss during the same period a year ago.
The company says it has identified annualized cost reductions totaling approximately $25 million. It is exploring several cost-cutting measures, including retail store efficiencies, operational costs and payroll cuts that it hopes to reduce primarily through attrition.