LuAnn Via Terminated As CEO Of Christopher & Banks
The board of Christopher & Banks terminated LuAnn Via from her role as CEO after a weak holiday sales performance and years of sluggish growth.
In the same announcement, the company revised its fourth quarter guidance, noting that same-store sales would be down 7 to 8 percent with total net sales expected for the quarter between $85 million and $86 million.
Shares of the Plymouth-based women’s apparel retailer plummeted over 30 percent on the news.
Christopher & Banks showed signs of progress in its third quarter, but it has consistently struggled with falling foot traffic and store closings.
Joe Waller, who previously worked for the company, as well as stints as CEO of The Wet Seal and Wilsons Leather, will fill the role on a temporary basis.
“I am very exciting to be rejoining Christopher & Banks and working with the management team and the entire organization,” Waller said in a statement. “I am very confident in the opportunity to return the company to profitability and have requested that my compensation package be directly aligned with increasing shareholder value.”
An SEC filing notes that Waller’s base salary will be $600,000. In addition, he has been offered two “employment inducement equity awards,” including the ability to purchase 375,000 shares at its closing price today. Another 200,000 shares are available to him if he meets performance benchmarks.
The shakeup comes less than a year after the company signed a “support agreement” with activist investors at Macellum Capital, which owns about 8 percent of the company. That agreement reduced the number of board seats from nine to seven and permitted Macellum to nominate four new candidates to serve. The board announced today that chair Lisa Wardell resigned from the board. She is replaced by Kent Kleeberger of Macellum.
Via joined the company in 2012. The SEC document noted that she will be paid over $1.1 million as part of her termination “without cause”, which includes $850,000 for the equivalent of a year’s salary, $285,600 in unpaid incentive compensation and various amounts for accrued vacation time, moving and accounting expenses and COBRA insurance coverage.