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J.Crew Group makes slew of appointments to management team

By Huw Hughes

1 Apr 2021


J.Crew has announced a raft of executive appointments and new board members as the US retailer looks to “advance its long-term strategic growth plan” after emerging from bankruptcy late last year.

Jose Davila has been appointed chief people officer where he will guide the company’s overall people strategy and execution. Davila has 25 years of talent management and brand-building experience, most recently working as vice president of human resources for Levi Strauss, where he oversaw North and South America.

He also spent a 10-year stint at Gap, where he held several senior positions including head of human resources for Banana Republic and vice president of human resources for the Gap Brand Stores Organization.

Next, Danielle Schmelkin has been named chief information officer, where she is tasked with steering the company’s digital transformation “by maximizing data insights, increasing connectedness and interactivity with customers, driving innovation and fortifying IT architecture”.

Schmelkin has over 20 years of experience in technology and digital innovation, most recently working as chief information officer of J.Crew’s Madewell brand.

Derek Yarbrough has been appointed to the newly-created position of chief marketing officer, where he will be responsible for all marketing, creative, and e-commerce initiatives for the J.Crew and Madewell brands. He brings over 20 years of experience, most recently serving as chief marketing officer of Madewell.

Finally, Liz Hershfield has been appointed as senior vice president of sustainability, another newly-created role responsible for leading sustainability innovation for the J.Crew, Madewell and J.Crew Factory brands. Hershfield has over 25 years of experience, most recently serving as senior vice president of sourcing and sustainability at Madewell.

“I believe strong and relevant brands are customer-centric, community-minded, purpose-driven and powered through innovation, technology and a deeply collaborative culture,” said Libby Wadle, J.Crew Group's CEO, in a statement. “Jose, Danielle, Derek and Liz are proven leaders in their respective fields, share our core values, and bring significant expertise as well as a passion for our brands that will drive our business forward.”

J.Crew doubles board to six members

In the same announcement, J.Crew revealed the addition of three new board members. Frits Dirk van Paasschen is the former CEO of The Coors Brewing Company and has held several management positions at Nike, ultimately becoming Nike's president of Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

The next new addition is Anna Fieler, a transformative technology executive and investor who founded and currently runs venture capital firm Madison Park Ventures. She was also peviously chief marketing officer of PopSugar.

The final addition is Nadia Rawlinson, a global human resources executive who currently serves as the chief people officer at Slack and was previously the chief human resources officer at Live Nation Entertainment and Rakuten USA.

This slew of top appointments comes at a significant period of change for J.Crew. The group became the first major US retailer to file for bankruptcy during the Covid-19 pandemic back in May. It confirmed at the time that Madewell would remain part of J.Crew Group, following speculation it might sell off the brand.

In September 2020, the company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy after winning approval for its restructuring plan by the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The plan saw the company equitize over 1.6 billion dollars of secured indebtedness, and access a 400 million dollar exit asset-based loan facility as well as 400 million dollars of new term loans.

The same month, the retailer announced it would permanently close all six of its UK stores as it exits the country.

Photo credit: J.Crew