Orange County Business Journal

Wet Seal Names CEO

Kari Hamanaka Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Foothill Ranch-based teen retailer Wet Seal Inc. named John D. Goodman chief executive, effective Monday.

Goodman’s appointment ends the company’s search for a new leader that began in July following the ouster of former Chief Executive Susan McGalla.

The former executive of Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears Holdings Corp. and Charlotte Russe Inc. of San Diego takes the helm as Wet Seal continues a years-long bid for a turnaround.

The company operates a chain of 475 Wet Seal stores for teens and 80 Arden B stores for young women.

Goodman most recently joined the company’s board of directors in September, at the same time former Wet Seal Chief Executive Kathy Bronstein also was appointed to the board.

He is the former executive vice president and chief apparel and home officer of Sears Holdings, where he worked with both the Sears and Kmart brands.

Goodman also is credited with helping turn around the juniors retailer Charlotte Russe, which currently counts more than 500 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

“The committee conducted an extensive search since assuming control of the process after installation of the new board in October,” said Board Chair Lynda Davey in a statement. “We found John's energy and passion for the fashion industry and, in particular, his understanding of the junior customer perfectly aligned with the attributes we were seeking in a chief executive officer. As an active Wet Seal Director, John has already developed a strong working relationship with the executive team. We feel certain that this will expedite the improvement in operating performance and the prospects for profitable growth.”

Goodman’s hiring caps a rugged stretch for the company that followed McGalla’s firing, which heard calls from major shareholder Clinton Group Inc. of New York for the removal and replacement of four Wet Seal board members. Former Board Chairman Hal Kahn along with three directors ultimately resigned in October as part of a resolution between Wet Seal and Clinton Group.

Meantime, the company has been reworking its turnaround strategy with fast-fashion merchandising, reversing a previous plan set into motion under McGalla, who set out to cut down on discounting.

Wet Seal has narrowed its monthly same-store sales losses since September. A setback was seen in December with a 9.7% fall in same-store sales.

Goodman’s employment contract with the company runs through Jan. 30, 2016.