By now, it has become fairly obvious that Christopher & Banks Corp. needs something different. Anything different.
The Plymouth-based retailer plans to close nearly 100 stores by the end of next month and suspend its dividend. The sudden need to preserve cash stems from its merchandising failures in which consumers were not willing to pay higher prices for the new clothing lines Christopher & Banks wanted them to pay.
At the risk of alienating any Christopher & Banks fans out there, the company doesn't exactly come to mind when one thinks about a fashion forward women's apparel chain. Instead, words like "stuffy" and "dowdy" seem more appropriate.
So to reverse its fashion missteps, Christopher & Banks recently announced it hired a turnaround guy, a fixer if you will, to serve as president for a year. And that knight in shining armor is...Joel Waller?
Waller, if you remember, was CEO of the now defunct Wilsons the Leather Experts chain, which filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and eventually sold its assets to G-III Apparel Group Ltd. of New York for $22.3 million in cash.
So this is the man Christopher & Banks entrusted to revitalize its fortunes?
To be fair, Waller has had a long career in retail.
Waller brings to the job many "years of experience," senior vice president Monica Dahl said.
He was CEO of teen apparel chain Wet Seal and then served as a consultant to several retailers, including Christopher & Banks.
But that's the problem. The company is turning to someone it already knows, someone CEO Larry Barenbaum is presumably comfortable working with.
Perhaps comfort and familiarity is not what Christopher & Banks needs but rather fresh energy that only true outsider can bring.
But Christopher & Banks does not seem to be a company that instinctively embraces outsiders or risk for that matter. The company recently recruited Morris Goldfarb, CEO of G-lll Apparel to join its board, the same company that purchased Wilsons Leather.
It also brought back Joules Rouse, who launched the CJ Banks brand back in 2001, as senior vice president and general merchandise manager.
If Christopher & Banks ever wants to break out of its funk, then perhaps it should cast its recruiting net beyond its insular circle of executives and consultants.