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Former New Look chief Kristiansen to join Esprit

Lauretta Roberts
21 March 2018

Former New Look CEO Anders Kristiansen will join Hong Kong-listed fashion brand Esprit as CEO on 1 June replacing Jose Manuel Martínez Gutiérrez who is standing down.

As part of the management changes Esprit's former non-executive chairman Dr Raymond Or Ching Fai will take an executive chairman role "in order to play a more active role in the next phase of the Group’s strategy, which includes a very ambitious plan for China."

Dr Or said of Kristiansen's appointment: "[He] is a well-rounded and seasoned executive in the fashion industry, with extensive experience in successful business development both in Europe and Asia, especially China. As former CEO of New Look Retail Group Ltd, Mr Kristiansen has a sound track record of leading complex growth and expansion projects. The Board has every confidence that Mr Kristiansen will successfully lead Esprit into the next phase of growth and look forward to working with him to achieve that goal.”

Kristiansen was CEO of British fast fashion chain New Look from January 2013 until September 2017 and during his tenure the business was acquired by South African investor Brait. Towards the end of his reign, however, New Look had begun to flounder and is currently undergoing a restructure involving the proposed closure of 60 stores.

Prior to New Look, Kristiansen held several senior roles with a particular focus on China and Asia including executive positions with the Bestseller Fashion Group China, Staples Inc. in China, and in Lyreco, an office supplies company, where he managed the business in Europe and then in Asia Pacific. Since leaving New Look he has been an adviser to private equity group Permira.

“Having followed the Company’s progress closely over recent years, I am honoured and excited to join Esprit as Group Chief Executive Officer. Esprit is a strong, global brand at an exciting juncture, and I will focus on leveraging the Company’s enormous potential to deliver long-term shareholder value. Our objective will be to recapture market share and ultimately return the Company to growth. I look forward to working with Dr Or, the Board and all colleagues at Esprit to achieve this,” Kristiansen said of his appointment.

Martinez, a former Inditex executive, joined Esprit in 2012 and was charged with reviving the brand. Some of his initiatives were well received and successful, however the brand had almost withdrawn from China entirely, which would explain Dr Or's focus on that market and the selection of a CEO with particular Chinese expertise. It is said Martinez is leaving for "personal reasons" and to pursue other opportunities.

"We very much regret losing Mr Martínez as his contribution has been most valuable to Esprit. Over the past 5 years, he reversed a severe declining trend of the Group's results by stabilizing operations, restructuring the organization, and improving overall profitability. After this phase of bottom line recovery is completed, the Group enjoys a sound financial position, with no debt and net cash of HK$4,575 million as of 31 December 2017. This healthy financial situation enables a new phase focused on driving top line performance in the coming years. We would like to wish Mr Martínez all the best in his future endeavours.”

In his new role Kristiansen will earn a base salary of €1.4m along with a discretionary bonus of the same amount along with a car allowance of €40,000 and shares in the company.


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