Fort Wayne-based Vera Bradley Inc. (Nasdaq: VRA) is shaking up its leadership team with the departures of three “C-suite” Vera Bradley Brand executives. The move is also resulting in the departure and buyout of the two founders and co-presidents of Pura Vida, the jewelry and accessories brand acquired by Vera Bradley in 2019.
The company says the leadership restructuring is designed to drive cost savings, and to put more focus on marketing and merchandising.
“These decisions were made in order to right-size our leadership team and cost structure for the size of our business, to address the continuing challenging macro environment, and to best position us to achieve our long-term strategic plans,” said Vera Bradley Inc. President and CEO Jackie Ardrey, who succeeded former CEO Rob Wallstrom late last year.
As a part of the reorganization, the company has eliminated the positions of Vera Bradley Brand President Daren Hull, Chief Creative Officer Beatrice Mac Cabe, and Chief Revenue Officer Mary Beth Trypus.
“It is critical to have a high-functioning, aligned executive leadership team, and this flattened and streamlined structure will help us execute better, make faster decisions, and drive success,” Ardrey said.
Vera Bradley says Pura Vida Co-Presidents Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman, who founded the California-based jewelry brand in 2010, will leave the company, effective this week. Vera Bradley Inc. will acquire the remaining 25% interest in Pura Vida from the two executives for $10 million.
While Thall steps away from day-to-day operations, he will continue in a consulting role. The search is underway for a new president of Pura Vida.
“These most recent organizational changes will produce annualized savings of over $2 million, on top of the $25 million of cost reductions previously identified and largely realized in fiscal 2023, which should position us to be a stronger, more nimble organization,” said Ardrey.
Meanwhile, the company is adding a position of senior vice president of merchandising and design for Vera Bradley. A search is currently underway.
The luggage, handbag, and accessory design company also announced Alison Hiatt has joined Vera Bradley Inc. as Chief Marketing Officer to oversee digital marketing, customer data, and ecommerce. Most recently, she served as CMO for Oregon-based Salt and Straw, an ice cream chain in the Pacific Northwest that has a national following. Hiatt has also held marketing positions with Starbucks and Amazon.
Ardrey, who joined the board of directors last fall, says the company has “some heavy lifting to do in fiscal 2024, but she says the restructuring will result in a stronger company.
“We have a portfolio of two iconic, lifestyle brands; multi-generational customers with remarkable loyalty and devotion; amazing brand recognition; a solid balance sheet; and an extraordinary culture. I believe the Company will deliver meaningful growth and value to our shareholders over the long term.”