Jacksonville, FL—Jay Stein, interim chief executive officer at Stein Mart since September 2011, has been appointed permanent chief executive as of Tuesday.
“It has been my pleasure to return and lead Stein Mart after nearly two years as interim CEO,” said Jay Stein. “Working side-by-side with our wonderful leadership team, we are now enjoying these great results. This is an important time in our company’s history and I am very happy to be part of this great organization.”
Stein has served as chairman of Stein Mart’s board of directors since 1989 and will continue to serve in that role. He previously served as Stein Mart’s CEO from 1990 to September 2001 when he tired from that role. Stein remains the company’s largest stockholder with about 24.7% of the stock, according to Stein Mart’s annual proxy statement.
During his interim position, Stein oversaw a restoration of the company’s NASDAQ standing after the stock exchange threatened to de-list the off price retailer for failing to comply with filing guidelines. He also was pleased to report that the company’s 2012 net income was $5 million higher than the previous year and total net sales increased 4.6% to $1.23 billion.
Building Up E-Commerce
“We did this by returning to those things that made this company great, including a compelling merchandise assortment, selectively lowering merchandise prices and controlling regular-price couponing,” Stein said when the results were released in April.
And to build up its omni-channel retailing capabilities, Stein Mart is planning to launch a new e-commerce initiative later this year to sell more merchandise online.
“Launching our new e-commerce business is the most important thing we’re going to do this year,” Stein said in a conference call with analysts last month.
Stein Mart has good reason to concentrate on its online business. According to Mark Montagna, analyst at Avondale Partners, in a survey of how retailers stand up to showrooming—where consumers shop in-store then look up merchandise online for lower retail prices—Stein Mart held up better than most retailers, offering a better price on its merchandise than what could be found online.
“Based on a price survey of 150 items at Stein Mart, we conclude it is nearly immune to showrooming,” Montagna said in a report last month. Montagna had used Google Shopper app in a Stein Mart store to check on 150 items, and he could find a match for only 28 of them. For those 28 items he could find online, Stein Mart had the best price for 21 of them and those items beat the best online price by an average of 24%.
When asked about the study, Stein commented: “Obviously, we were pleased with these results, which support our belief that our prices are extremely competitive even on online channels.”