Thomas Tang, CFO of embattled retailer Esprit Holdings, will be stepping down, the company announced Wednesday. Johannes Georg Schmidt-Schultes will take the reins as CFO on Oct. 21.
The Hong Kong-based fashion company is in the midst of "comprehensive restructuring," WWD reported. The restructuring plan has "moved into a phase that requires the [CFO] to be based in the group's core operations in Europe," the Esprit release said.
This is the second major executive change for the chain, following the 2018 appointment of Anders Kristiansen as CEO, which ended former CEO José Manuel Martínez Gutiérrez's five-year stint.
Tang is resigning voluntarily, Esprit said, citing an inability to relocate to Europe as the company needs. Schmidt-Schultes by contrast has spent his career in Europe, positioning him to help Esprit execute its new vision.
Esprit's C-suite shuffle comes amid a year of sustained struggles for retail chains. About 7,000 stores have closed, and 16 companies have filed for bankruptcy within the industry in 2019, Retail Dive reported. Esprit is far from immune; during Gutiérrez’s tenure as CEO, Esprit suffered losses of $273 million, closed 169 stores, and laid off 28% of its staff, WWD reported.
In light of Forever 21's bankruptcy, Esprit is hoping to realign its brand identity away from fast fashion, and pivot out of Australia and New Zealand, citing poor earnings, WWD said.
Schmidt-Schultes holds a Ph.D. in finance from Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, and he most recently served as CFO of BMI Group Holdings UK. Prior to that, he served as CFO for Apleona Group GmbH, Semperit AG Holding, Telstra Corp. Ltd., and as finance director for T-Mobile UK and T-Mobile Austria.