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Lands’ End goes for luxury with new chief executive hire

February 2, 2015, 1:46 PM UTC
Photograph by D Dipasupil — Getty Images

Lands’ End, an apparel company known for its casual American style, has named a Dolce & Gabbana executive to serve as the brand’s next CEO.

The apparel company, which last year was spun off from Sears (SHLD), said Federica Marchionni will join Lands’ End (LE) as CEO on Feb. 17. She will also join the company’s board. Marchionni succeeds Edgar Huber, who is resigning.

“I cannot wait to get started to take advantage of the significant opportunities ahead,” Marchionni said in a statement. Josephine Linden, chairman of Lands’ End’s board, said they were confident she would “build upon the company’s legacy as a classic American brand with a keen eye toward its future as a global lifestyle brand.”

The appointment of Marchionni can be seen as somewhat out of Lands’ End’s comfort zone as much of her experience is in a world that Land’s End doesn’t compete in. Marchionni has served as president of Dolce & Gabbana’s U.S. operations since 2011 and had worked for the luxury brand since 2001. She was also an executive at Ferrari, and previously held positions as some telecommunications firms such as Samsung.

Lands’ End couldn’t be any more different than Dolce & Gabbana. For example, none of the dresses Land’s End currently lists on its’ website retail for more than $100. Dolce & Gabbana’s dresses, as one of the world’s priciest apparel brands, costs thousands and thus court an entirely different audience.

Lands’ End is one of the assets Sears has unloaded as it generates proceeds from its portfolio at a time when sales have faced significant pressure. Sears had owned the company, which generates about $1.5 billion in revenue annually, since 2002. The brand has reportedly suffered under Sears ownership, with some analysts caught off guard by the weakness of the brand’s results when Sears first indicated it would spin off the company.

The change at the top of Land’s End comes less than two weeks after the company warned it expects fourth-quarter sales would decline 3% to 5% from a year ago, while net income was expected to tumble a more severe 20% to 26%. The company said it was disappointed by the performance of its’ cold weather gear, and also saw a mixed reaction to some of the fashionable sweaters and knits it attempted to sell to women. That profit and sales warning led Lands’ End shares to fall from north of $50 to under $37 a piece.