After more than a year with an interim leader at the helm, Plymouth-based Christopher & Banks finally has a new permanent CEO.
The women’s clothing chain of 463 stores, which has been struggling for years to turn around its business, said Thursday it has appointed Keri Jones as its next chief executive. The longtime Target executive who most recently held a high-level position at Dick’s Sporting Goods is expected to start in her new role on March 12.
Jones was chief merchant for Dick’s, a position she was named to in May 2017. Before that, she spent 27 years at Minneapolis-based Target where she had roles including head of global supply chain and of merchandise planning and operations.
“We conducted an extensive search and Keri distinguished herself as our top choice, having the deep industry experience, leadership skills and passion for the specialty retail business we were seeking,” Kent Kleeberger, board chairman, said in a statement.
In her own statement, Jones said she’s excited to “build on the current momentum and drive the company to consistent profitability.”
Christopher & Banks, which caters to a middle-aged to baby boomer customer, has struggled over the years with frequent turnover at the top amid various turnaround attempts.
It’s also one of many apparel retailers that have been feeling the pinch from the shift to online shopping, the decrease in mall traffic and the popularity of off-price retailers.
Her attempts to improve the company’s bottom line had lost steam, punctuated by a steep drop in holiday sales in 2016.
Joel Waller, the former CEO of Wet Seal and Wilson Leather, was selected to be interim CEO in January 2017. After Jones joins the company, Waller will continue to be a board member and consultant.
In an attempt to reverse sales declines, Waller has been increasing the mix of fashion items in Christopher & Banks’ product lineup and refreshing merchandise more frequently to freshen stores. But the retailer’s sales and profits have continued to fall in the past year. In its most recent quarter, comparable sales fell 5 percent. And its shares have been trading at just above $1.