Category of industry insights regarding women executives in the retail industry

E.A. Hughes & Co. Places Female Board Member at American Eagle Outfitters

E.A. Hughes & Co., a division of Solomon Page, places Deb Henretta to the Board of Directors of American Eagle Outfitters. Her broad experience will help drive continued growth and momentum of the American Eagle and Aerie brands.


As see on WWD February 15, 2019

American Eagle Outfitters continues to stay on top of the trends.

In addition to recently surpassing $1 billion in sales during a single quarter, the teen apparel and accessories retailer is adding a new face to its board.

Effective Thursday, Deb Henretta is now on the company’s board as an independent director, making the total number of women on the committee three out of eight.


Deb Henretta, from WWD

“Deb’s passion for innovation and transforming the customer experience is perfectly aligned with our strategic vision as we continue to grow our leading brands worldwide,” Jay Schottenstein, executive chairman and ceo of American Eagle said in a statement, adding that Henretta’s experience “will add tremendous value to the team.”

“We look forward to benefiting from her insights,” Schottenstein added.

Henretta’s 30-year résumé in the consumer products industry includes a stint at Procter & Gamble as group president of global e-commerce and president of global beauty care. She is also on the board of a number of other organizations, including technology company Corning and real estate firm Meritage Homes.

The seasoned retail executive said she’s “thrilled” to join American Eagle’s board and the chance to work with Schottenstein.

“It will be a privilege to help drive continued growth and momentum of the American Eagle and Aerie brands,” said Henretta, who hopes her experience in branded consumer goods and digital transformation, as well as on other boards, will help shape the customer experience at American Eagle for the better.

“Both American Eagle and Aerie are pushing the boundaries of innovation and speaking to the values of their target customers,” she said.

American Eagle’s existing female board members are Sujatha Chandrasekaran and Janice Page. The addition of Henretta comes at a time when companies are being pressured by shareholders to rethink their top-level talent.

Straddled with #MeToo woesGuess Inc. added two female board members as independent directors last November.

Nike, also no stranger to #MeToo publicity, gave Heidi O’Neill, president of Nike Direct, an updated title the following month. O’Neill, one of Nike’s highest-ranking female executives, is now in charge of not only retail stores and the web site, but also oversees digital products and services.

“Companies are being pressured to diversify,” said Susan Anderson, managing director at financial firm B. Riley FBR. “A lot of it probably has to do with what’s going on politically.”

Still, a lack of female board members throughout the retail industry remains evident. Footwear company Skechers, for example, does not have a woman on its board.

Henretta called her appointment to American Eagle’s board “another terrific sign.”

“It is exciting to see more women earning their way into the boardroom and into leadership positions on these boards,” she said, but admitted that the challenges of creating diverse leadership teams in the retail industry are far from over.

“While there is good progress, there is still more work to be done so that today’s boards and management teams better reflect the diversity of the consumers they serve,” Henretta said.

Article by: Kellie Ell on February 15, 2019


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Garmento Lafayette 148 aims for China

Excerpt from – June 23, 2014

“For women who want to have a contemporary, tailored fit, there’s few [options],” said Elaine Hughes, chief executive of retail executive search firm E.A. Hughes & Co. “Even in stores like [Saks and Neiman], its just private label business [the store’s own brands] at those price points.”


Garmento Lafayette 148 aims for China
Article by Adrianne Pasquarelli

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Target Faces Difficult CEO Search

Excerpt from – June 19, 2014

“Murphy would be a great hire,” said Elaine Hughes, founder and CEO of E.A. Hughes & Co. “He didn’t necessarily have a track record in the [apparel] industry when he was hired at The Gap,” she said. “But Gap understood that the company was full of merchants.” Murphy cut his teeth at Lobloaws in Canada, “a supermarket chain that delivered to the market some very good candidates,” said Hughes. “You don’t have a lot of U.S. executives with that exposure. You could look into packaged good companies. Starbucks has done a good job and Pepsi within its ranks has multi brand strategy. TJX has global distribution.”

Carol Meyrowitz, CEO of the TJX Cos. Inc., is admired for running 3,000 stores in six countries since 2007 and taking revenues from about $16 billion to about $27 billion. In fiscal 2013, revenues and profits grew by double digits. Hughes believes Meyrowitz or one of her deputies would be a good candidate for the Target job. “Carol Meyrowitz took care of the whole credit card issue,” she said. “However, [TJX executives] don’t leave so readily and the people closest to Carol Meyrowitz are are close to the succession plan.”

For most retailers, succession is just a natural part of a retail’s circle of life, but to the surprise of experts, Target didn’t have a succession plan in place. “Some companies circulate their management so they have exposure to all areas of the company,” said Hughes. Wal-Mart moves executives across departments and geographies. But Target doesn’t seem to have a very deep bench when it comes to talent.


Target Faces Difficult CEO Search (paid subscription required)
Article by Sharon Edelson

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Women at Work: Fashion’s Glass Ceiling Prevails

Excerpt from – October 29, 2012

Elaine Hughes, president of executive search firm E.A. Hughes & Co., said women are making headway in the industry, with many running divisions of large firms.

“Most publicly traded companies have been making a concerted effort to recruit for diversity,” Hughes said. “Companies ask for documentation that the research has included a diverse candidate pool.”

And the world has become more open to the idea of female leaders, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

“The globalization of media and access to limitless information has allowed young people to understand that there are choices,” Hughes said.


Women at Work: Fashion’s Glass Ceiling Prevails
Article by Evan Clark

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Fashion’s Talent Race: Executive Pay Soars

Excerpt from – July 30, 2012

At the end of the day, compensation should always be tied to performance,” said Elaine Hughes, president of search firm E.A. Hughes & Co.


Fashion’s Talent Race: Executive Pay Soars (paid WWD subscription required)
Article by Evan Clark

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Jones Struggles to Find Fit

Excerpt from – January 15, 2012

“She has been current, if not visionary, on product, has tremendous customer insight and knows how to respond immediately as that customer evolves,” said Elaine Hughes, who runs retail executive search firm E.A. Hughes & Co.


Jones Struggles to Find Fit
Article by Adrianne Pasquarelli

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Trudy Sullivan to Retire as Talbots CEO

Excerpt from – August 13, 2013

“There’s no doubting that she’s very smart,” said Elaine Hughes, president of executive search firm E.A. Hughes & Co., … “But with some of these stores that have a long brand heritage, like Talbots does, it’s very difficult to try to contemporize that product.”

“There’s a reason for Talbots because you have an underserved customer,” she said. “That customer isn’t shopping J. Crew. She’s a middle-age woman who’s not refusing to grow old, but wants to be current and contemporary in her thought process.”


Trudy Sullivan to Retire as Talbots CEO (paid subscription required)
Article by Vicki M. Young and Lisa Lockwood