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Pacific Sunwear selects ex-Vans chief to be CEO

Gary H. Schoenfeld brings surf-and-skate experience to the retail chain, which has been losing money.

June 18, 2009|Andrea Chang

Teen specialty retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. named former Vans Inc. CEO Gary H. Schoenfeld to its chief executive post Wednesday.

Schoenfeld succeeds Sally Frame Kasaks, who has served as CEO of the Anaheim retailer since 2006 and as board chairwoman since 2007. Pacific Sunwear said Kasaks wasn't pushed out from the top job and would remain a director.

Schoenfeld, 46, will take over as chief executive June 29, the company said. He had a nine-year tenure at Vans, ending in 2004, and later became co-CEO and president of Global Brands Group.

In an interview, Schoenfeld said he hoped to make Pacific Sunwear "once again a favorite place to shop" by expanding the chain's brand mix, attracting new customers and promoting the surf-and-skate lifestyle. Although he said he was enthusiastic about the company's long-term prospects, he also noted its recent revenue problems and the challenging retail environment.

"The company has had declining sales trends and hasn't been profitable for some time, so we've got some work to do," he said.

Kasaks took the CEO job amid hopes that she would boost the retailer's sagging sales. During her tenure, she increased offerings for teen girls and closed the company's footwear division.

But the chain has been hammered by the recession in recent months as consumers cut spending.

In January, Pacific Sunwear announced widespread cost-cutting measures. Last month the company reported that sales at stores open at least a year fell 18% in the first quarter compared with a year earlier.

Mitch Kummetz, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., said Schoenfeld's experience would help him lead Pacific Sunwear in a new direction.

"Gary's strength is understanding the action sports market and understanding the teen consumer," Kummetz said. "He's got a solid background."

Pacific Sunwear stock closed at $3.20, down 5 cents, before the management change was announced. In after-hours trading, the stock was little changed.

The company operated 927 stores in 50 states and Puerto Rico as of May 2.

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andrea.chang@latimes.com

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