American Eagle Outfitters on Monday announced the promotion of Mike Mathias to chief financial officer, replacing Bob Madore, CFO since 2016, effective immediately.
Mathias most recently was the apparel retailer's chief of financial planning and analysis, and has more than 20 years of experience in retail, "spanning finance, merchandise planning, strategy, business development and operations," per a company press release. His first job at American Eagle, in 1998, was managing the finances of stores and operations.
On Wednesday, the company also announced its intention to offer $400 million in convertible senior notes, due in 2025, according to another press release.
In a statement, CEO Jay Schottenstein, now Mathias's direct boss, said Mathias has been groomed for the top finance position for the past several years. Mathias has been senior vice president and head of financial planning & analysis for the chain since 2017. But he is taking the job at a time of immense uncertainty.
With all of its North American stores temporarily shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic and apparel sales in freefall — the sector took a 52% hit last month even before most brick-and-mortar locations closed down — the retailer has scrambled to cut costs and boost cash, including Wednesday's bond announcement.
"Now is the time when you really need people who can manage finances very well, and who are very good at forecasting, and understand the financial implications of the crisis," Neil Saunders of Global Data Retail told CFO Dive last week.
"Finance is the most important role in the retail business right now," Saunders said. "Marketing you can still do, store management is not needed when stores aren't open, CEOs need to guide strategy, but much of the success and failure in this crisis will depend on managing finance."
With Mathias at the helm, American Eagle is likely better positioned than most, with its casual attire in high demand due to the quarantine situation. The company also already gets nearly a third of its sales online, according to Telsey Advisory Group.
Another advantage: Even before Wednesday's bond announcement, American Eagle was listed in a report from B. Riley FBR analysts as one of the retailers with the best liquidity cushions, along with Abercrombie & Fitch and Urban Outfitters, among others.