Perry Ellis International, Inc. announced a leadership succession plan that it intends to implement at the beginning of the next fiscal year. Oscar Feldenkreis, who has been involved in all aspects of the company's
operations since joining the company full-time in 1980 and has served
as president and chief operating officer since 1993, will become Perry
Ellis' chief executive officer at the beginning of the next fiscal year.
George Feldenkreis, chief executive officer and chairman since 1993, intends to transition from his role as chief executive officer following the expiration of his employment contract on January 30, 2016. He will serve as executive chairman of the board with an integral role in strategic planning and the development of M&A, international, licensing and other growth opportunities where his experience and extensive knowledge of Perry Ellis and the apparel industry can help the company create value for its shareholders.
In separate statements, Perry Ellis International announced its
recommended slate of nominees to stand for election as directors at the
2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders and also
George Feldenkreis said, “I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished over the past half century, particularly the value that we have created for all our stakeholders. We have grown from being a small importer of guayaberas and children's wear in 1967 to being a leading international designer and distributor of globally recognized apparel brands. For the past two years, we have worked very hard to return the company to a more profitable path. Given the success of our strategic initiatives, the significant improvements in our financial performance and outlook that we discussed in our recent earnings call, our stock price appreciating approximately 87 percent over the past twelve months and currently trading at its highest level in four years, and the groundwork being laid for us to have one of the strongest boards in the apparel industry following our 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, now is the right time for us to put a formal succession plan in place to ensure a smooth leadership transition.”
He added, “I have worked closely with Oscar since he joined Perry Ellis 35 years ago and watched first-hand and with great pride the significant role he has played in the company's growth and success. I am very confident in his ability to lead the company as its new chief executive officer and drive the next era of disciplined growth and shareholder value creation. I have never been more optimistic about the company's future growth prospects. I look forward to continuing to be actively involved in Perry Ellis as its Executive chairman of the board, where I will focus my time on corporate strategy and developing M&A, international and licensing opportunities, and other areas where the Board feels my experience and extensive knowledge of Perry Ellis and the apparel industry can help the company create value for our shareholders. I also plan to become even more active in many of the philanthropic initiatives I have supported for decades.”
Joseph P. Lacher, lead eindependent director of the Perry Ellis Board, said, “George Feldenkreis is a great American success story. With close to a billion dollars in annual revenues today, Perry Ellis originated as a small family business that George, an emigre from Cuba with a young family and no money to his name, started more than 50 years ago after fleeing Fidel Castro's rise to power. In a remarkable display of commitment, determination, integrity and ingenuity, George built Perry Ellis into an apparel industry powerhouse. He was one of the early pioneers in international sourcing and development, making his first business trip to Japan in the early 1960s — in fact, it was George's early vision with respect to the future of Asia that gave him the idea of building his company and creating the network of overseas offices that went on to become one of the best sourcing organizations in the industry. Today, many of the brands that make up the Perry Ellis portfolio are synonymous with American fashion. George's knowledge of the apparel business, his ability to deliver outstanding products at great value that resonate with consumers and his commitment and dedication have positioned the company as an apparel industry leader that has generated significant value for our shareholders. The Board is very pleased that George will continue to be actively involved in Perry Ellis as Executive Chairman so that we will continue to benefit from his strategic insights and extensive knowledge of the company and the apparel industry.”
Joe Arriola, another board member added, added, “Other than George, no one knows Perry Ellis better than Oscar Feldenkreis, who has served as its President, Chief Operating Officer and a member of the Board for many years. On behalf of the entire Board, I am confident that Oscar's extensive knowledge of and experience with the company, his deep understanding of the apparel industry, and his extensive network of relationships within the industry, together with his strong commitment, dedication and work ethic, make him the ideal candidate to lead Perry Ellis as it enters its next era of growth and value creation. Oscar has been involved in all aspects of the company's operations, starting in sales in 1980 and shortly after expanding his work to sourcing in Asia. He has a keen understanding and fashion taste that has helped him to be the driving force of the revenue expansion of the company, building close, productive relationships with the leaders of the retail industry.”
Oscar Feldenkreis said, “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as Perry Ellis' next CEO. We have made considerable progress over the past years to drive revenues and improve profitability, and I believe there is more to be accomplished. Going forward, we will remain focused on continuing to meet the changing needs of our consumers and to grow and build value for our shareholders by optimizing our portfolio, driving international growth, expanding our direct-to-customer footprint, expanding gross-margins and generating additional cost savings. I look forward to working closely with the Board, our talented management team and our over 2,600 employees as we continue to move the company forward and create even more value for our shareholders.”
In a separate statement, Perry Ellis International, Inc. announced its recommended slate of nominees to stand for election as directors at the 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
The company's director nominees in connection with the 2015 Annual Meeting will include the following execs:
- Bruce J. Klatsky, former CEO and Chairman of Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVH);
- Michael W. Rayden, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Tween Brands, Inc. and director of Ascena Retail Group, Inc.; and
- Oscar Feldenkreis, CEO-designee and currently President, Chief Operating Officer and Vice Chairman of Perry Ellis International.
If elected, Messrs. Klatsky and Rayden would be independent directors and would replace current directors Joe Arriola and Joseph P. Lacher both of whom, following years of dedicated service to Perry Ellis, have chosen to retire from the Perry Ellis Board following the 2015 Annual Meeting. Messrs. Klatsky and Rayden were identified to the Perry Ellis Board as potential director candidates with the assistance of a leading executive search firm that was retained by the Perry Ellis Board to conduct a comprehensive search process and identify highly qualified candidates to serve as independent members of the Board.
Messrs. Klatsky and Rayden bring to the Perry Ellis Board extensive experience in apparel, wholesaling, brand building, licensing and retailing, as well as experience serving on the boards of directors of companies in the apparel, retail and other industries. During his 13 years as Chief Executive Officer of PVH, Klatsky led the transformation of a 120 year-old shirt company into one of the largest apparel and footwear companies in the world. Among Klatsky's many achievements at PVH was the acquisition of the Calvin Klein brand in one of the most transformative transactions in the apparel industry to date. Rayden, in addition to serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Tween Brands, a leading apparel specialty retailer with close to 1,000 retail stores throughout the United States, Canada and overseas, has served as the Chief Executive Officer of other nationally-known apparel retailers including Pacific Sunwear of California, Stride Rite and Eddie Bauer.
With the election of Messrs. Feldenkreis, Klatsky and Rayden, the Perry Ellis Board would be composed of seven highly-qualified and experienced directors, five of whom are independent. Upon their election, the Perry Ellis Board would boast a broad and diverse set of skills and experiences in the areas of apparel, sourcing, merchandising, wholesaling, licensing, retailing, e-commerce, branding, marketing, customer service, sales, logistics, operations, distribution, store planning and development, finance, mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, capital allocation, capital structure, risk management, global operations, strategic planning and international knowledge.
In deciding to retire after the 2015 Annual Meeting, Messrs. Arriola and Lacher both indicated to the Board and its Nominating and Governance Committee an interest in being able to focus more of their time and attention on the South Florida civic, charitable and other non-profit organizations that each is deeply committed to. Arriola currently serves as Chairman of the Public Health Trust, the independent governing body for Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami-Dade County's most vital healthcare resource, and is overseeing the proposed $1 billion expansion of the hospital. Lacher currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Goodwill Industries South Florida, one of Miami-Dade County's largest employers and the leading non-profit organization focused on creating training, employment and job placement opportunities for people with disabilities with the goal of transitioning individuals to independence and productivity.
“On behalf of the entire Board and management team, I am extremely grateful to Joe Arriola and Joe Lacher for their many years of dedicated service to our Board and their countless valuable contributions to Perry Ellis,” said George Feldenkreis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Perry Ellis. “Joe and Joe have brought incredible wisdom, experience and intellect to our business. They have been instrumental in Perry Ellis' substantial growth and success. Their advice, insight and judgment, as well as their sharp business acumen and ability to assess business opportunities and address challenges, have helped guide Perry Ellis and prepare our company for the growth opportunities that lie ahead. Both Joe and Joe have been exemplary board members, and we will miss their guidance and experience.”
Today's announcement reflects the Perry Ellis Board's continuing commitment to recruit new independent and highly-qualified directors that have perspectives, insights, experiences and competencies that expand the depth and breadth of the Board. If Messrs. Klatsky and Rayden are elected to the Board at the 2015 Annual Meeting, all five of the independent directors would have joined the Perry Ellis Board since the beginning of 2014.
Feldenkreis added, “We are all very pleased that Bruce Klatsky and Mike Rayden have agreed to be nominated to stand for election to the Perry Ellis Board. Bruce and Mike are among the most experienced and accomplished individuals in apparel wholesaling, licensing and retailing and they each have proven records of success in helping businesses grow globally and create shareholder value. They would bring to Perry Ellis extensive experience serving in senior leadership positions and as board members at leading apparel wholesale, licensing and retail companies and both have strong track records of driving growth and shareholder value creation. We are confident that their many years of apparel industry and public company board experience will be extremely valuable to Perry Ellis as we continue to execute on our strategic initiatives to drive revenues and enhance profitability.”
Finally, Perry Ellis International announced that Jane E. DeFlorio, a director of Perry Ellis since December 2014, has been appointed to serve as Perry Ellis' lead independent director, effective immediately. She succeeds Joseph P. Lacher, who has served as lead independent director since 2006 and is retiring from the Perry Ellis Board after the 2015 Annual Meeting.
Pursuant to Perry Ellis' corporate governance guidelines, the role of lead independent director includes responsibilities such as: presiding at all meetings at which the Chairman is not present including presiding at executive sessions of the Board (without management present) at every regularly scheduled Board meeting, serving as a liaison between the Chairman (and management) and the independent directors, approving meeting agendas, time schedules and other information provided to the Board, and being available for direct communication and consultation with major stockholders upon request. Perry Ellis' lead independent director also has the authority to call meetings of the independent directors.
“Jane is extremely well suited to serve as the Board's lead independent director and I and the rest of the Perry Ellis Board look forward to working with Jane in her new role,” said George Feldenkreis, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Perry Ellis. “I also want to express my deep appreciation to Joe Lacher for his strong, engaged and dedicated leadership as our lead independent director for the past nine years.”
DeFlorio commented, “I am pleased and honored to be appointed to serve as Perry Ellis' lead independent director. I look forward to serving Perry Ellis in this important leadership and corporate governance role as Perry Ellis continues its ongoing efforts to enhance its governance practices, which have included the adopting of a majority voting and resignation policy for directors, enhancing the stock ownership requirements under our stock ownership guidelines for directors and executive officers, placing restrictions on hedging and pledging of the Company's common stock for directors and executive officers and implementing a compensation recoupment policy applicable to directors and executive officers.”
DeFlorio, a seasoned investment banker and former Managing Director in the U.S. Retail and Consumer Group at Deutsche Bank Securities, is a respected business leader and a trusted advisor who brings to Perry Ellis extensive experience advising mid- and large-cap retail and fashion clients with respect to value enhancement strategies, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and product and market expansion initiatives.
Since joining the Perry Ellis Board in December 2014, DeFlorio has played a pivotal role at the Company as it continues to execute on its previously announced plans to review and focus the Perry Ellis portfolio with a goal to exit underperforming, low growth brands and businesses. DeFlorio has also been instrumental in the Board's process of identifying highly qualified and experienced director candidates who will bring new perspectives, insights, experiences and competencies that will enhance the depth and breadth of our Board, as well as in the Board's adoption of a number of shareholder-friendly corporate governance enhancements, as described above. In addition to serving as its lead independent director, DeFlorio serves on the audit and investment committees of the Board.
Perry Ellis’ portfolio of golf brands include Callaway, PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. Its swim labels include Nike and Jag. The firm’s other major labels include Perry Ellis, Original Penguin, Farah, Rafaella and Laundry by Shelli Segal.