Top Executives Named at Vera Bradley, Sorrelli, Dressbarn

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Robert Wallstrom

Robert Wallstrom

Vera Bradley Hires Former OFF Fifth President as CEO

Fort Wayne, IN—Robert Wallstrom, a former executive with Saks Inc., has been named president and chief executive officer at Vera Bradley Inc., replacing Michael C. Ray, who is retiring.

Wallstrom brings 30 years of retail experience to Vera Bradley, most recently serving as president of Saks’s OFF Fifth division, where he was instrumental in driving a 50% increase in sales and a 100% increase in profitability. Under his stewardship, OFF Fifth also elevated its brand, improved its assortment of merchandise, and expanded from 40 stores to 71 stores.

Wallstrom spent 12 years with Saks, where he was group senior vice president and general manager of the flagship Manhattan store from 2002 to 2007, and six years with Saks OFF Fifth.

“After a rigorous search process which included the evaluation of a number of highly qualified candidates, the Board unanimously concluded that Rob is the right leader for Vera Bradley and we are thrilled to welcome him to the company,” said Robert J. Hall, chairman of the board. “Rob is extremely well-regarded in the retail industry and has a proven track record developing and successfully executing strategic growth plans. He has a deep background in brand positioning, product development and planning and allocation, and we believe he has the right skills and expertise to lead our Company into the future

Prior to joining Saks, Wallstrom, 47, held a variety of roles of increasing responsibility at Macy’s Inc. from 1987 to 1995 and began his career in 1983 at J. W. Robinson. Wallstrom holds a BS in business administration/accounting from San Diego State University.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as CEO of such a unique company with a distinctive and authentic brand, an immensely loyal customer base, and a strong corporate culture,” Wallstrom said. “Mike Ray began Vera Bradley’s evolution into a powerful multi-channel business and I am excited to lead the company into its next phase of growth. I look forward to working with the Vera Bradley management team and Board as we work to capitalize on the significant opportunities to grow the business and generate long-term shareholder value.”

Lauren Mandel Joins Sorrelli as CEO

Lauren Mandel

Lauren Mandel

Kutztown, PA–Sorrelli, a 30-year-old family-owned and operated designer jewelry company, recently announces that Lauren Mandel was appointed chief executive officer. Prior to joining Sorrelli, Mandel founded TwoEyes, an eyewear business that she quickly grew into a successful department, specialty and private label brand.

She also spent a number of years with Victoria & Company where she was the Group President. There, Mandel was instrumental in turning Napier and Nine West fashion jewelry divisions into industry leaders. Prior, Mandel worked her way through Macy’s East to the role of vice president of women’s accessories.

“Lauren brings a history of retail understanding. Her experience is key to the future success of Sorrelli. She has leadership and commitment to our brand and she truly understands and shares the vision that I’ve always had for the company,” said Lisa Oswald, founder/owner of Sorrelli.

Mandel will oversee all aspects of managing the Sorrelli business, including production in the company owned facility, the wholesale division that services boutiques and major retailers like Amazon and Anthropologie, and the retail division that is currently preparing to open its second branded store location in Montclair, NJ.

“I’m excited to be a part of a brand that has such a strong heritage. But I’m especially excited to be a part of something that makes women everywhere, of every age and background, feel so beautiful and special. Sorrelli created a life layered in sparkle and I am looking forward to being a part of bringing this lifestyle and brand to a larger audience,” said Mandel.

 Ascena Taps Langley as Dressbarn EVP/CMO

Suffern, NY—Ascena Retail Group, Inc. recently announced that Judith Langley has joined dressbarn as executive vice president and chief merchandising officer.

David Jaffe, President and CEO of Ascena Retail Group, Inc., commented, “Judi is an outstanding merchant with deep specialty and large retail format experience,” said David Jaffe, president/ceo. “She will play a key role in the evolution of the dressbarn brand and we are delighted to have her joining the team.”

Langley brings to dressbarn extensive experience as a senior merchant and in product development. Most recently, she was executive vice president and chief merchandising officer with Charming Charlie’s. Previously, Langley was senior vice president of design and trend at Kohl’s, where she oversaw product direction for 15 brands; vice president of merchandising at Ann Taylor; and held merchandising and product development positions with Banana Republic, Gap, Victoria’s Secret, and May Company.




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