Weight Watchers Hires HSN’s Mindy Grossman As CEO
Weight Watchers has named Mindy Grossman, the CEO of home-shopping retailer HSN, to serve as the next chief executive officer at the diet company.
On Wednesday, Weight Watchers (WTW) said Grossman would be appointed to the joint roles of president and CEO, effective in July. She will also join the company’s board. Grossman previously served as CEO of HSN (HSNI), a $4 billion direct-to-consumer retailer that sells home and apparel goods through the company’s TV, online, and mobile apps. (Until 2000 it was called the Home Shopping Network.) HSN, in a separate statement, said Grossman’s resignation would be effective May 24. That company’s board has hired a national search firm to find a successor, saying it would consider both internal and external candidates.
Investors at Weight Watchers cheered the news, sending shares up 11% in after-hours trading.
Grossman—who served as CEO at HSN since 2008—has worked at a number of well-known retail brands, including holding executive roles at Nike (NKE), Ralph Lauren (RL), Tommy Hilfiger, and Oxford Industries. She has more than 38 years of experience working with consumer brands and also serves as chairman of the National Retail Federation’s board. In 2014, Grossman appeared on Fortune‘s Business Person of the Year list.
“Mindy is proven as a successful visionary and entrepreneurial force in business and I look forward to working with her,” Oprah Winfrey, an investor and board member at Weight Watchers, said in a statement. “She has the experience, the passion and the positive energy to take Weight Watchers to exciting new places.”
Weight Watchers will continue to be led by interim CEO Nicholas Hotchkin until Grossman joins the company this summer. The prior CEO, James Chambers, left after a three-year stint in what was described to the press as a joint decision as Weight Watchers’ results swung wildly during an uneven turnaround effort.
Grossman will steer Weight Watchers after the company last month reported fourth-quarter revenue that increased by 3% to $267 million and said it ended 2016 with 10% more subscribers than the prior year. Weight Watchers has attributed the turnaround to its relationship with media mogul Winfrey—she bought a 10% stake in the company in early 2015 and has been a highly vocal advocate for the program ever since. But bad news at times due to an uneven recovery has also led to a yo-yo performance for the stock in recent years.
What has most vexed Weight Watchers: consumers diet differently these days, relying less on strict plans and more on loose, do-it-yourself “holistic” approaches. Free apps on various mobile devices also make it harder for companies like Weight Watchers to charge for their programs.
A few years ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that Grossman turned down an offer to run J.C. Penney (JCP). Further speculation began to swirl that Grossman could move on to a number of potential traditional brick-and-mortar retailer, rumors she called “distracting” at the time.
In her prepared statement on Wednesday, Grossman called the decision to jump to Weight Watchers a thrilling endeavor. “This is a tremendous opportunity to leverage technology and consumer insights to create innovative personal experiences, build loyal communities and accelerate growth,” she said. “Ultimately, the ability to inspire people to live healthier and happier lives is what excites me both personally and professionally.”