Almost eight months after angering activists on both sides of the abortion fight and losing at least two religious schools as customers, Lands’ End CEO Federica Marchionni is stepping down.
In a press release, the clothing retailer’s Board Chairman Josephine Linden said that Marchionni’s “creative vision has helped Lands’ End begin its transformation as a global lifestyle brand with a broader merchandise offering that is more relevant in today’s marketplace. Federica is stepping down at this time, leaving Lands’ End well positioned to continue its evolution and capture the growth opportunities that exist for our iconic brand in this dynamic retail environment.”
According to Marchionni, “I am honored to have led this extraordinary company and proud to have succeeded in providing a vision to expand its positioning in the industry with a multi-dimensional strategy.”
Marchionni was hired in early 2015 to revamp Lands’ End’s struggling brand; the company’s valuation dropped from $1.9 billion in 2002 to $780 million last year. Market Watch shows that the company’s stock has dropped precipitously in the last two years, from over $55 per share in late 2014 to less than $16 per share today, and as low as $14.03 in the last year.
This spring Lands’ End ignited an uproar in the pro-life community when it promoted abortion feminist icon Gloria Steinem in its Easter catalog. The decision cost the company business from at least two schools, and pro-life outrage convinced its executives to apologize and pull Marchionni’s interview with Steinem off of its website.
The reversal made things worse, from the company’s perspective — abortion supporters slammed Lands’ End on social media and traditional news outlets, leading several branding and public relations experts to call the controversy an unforced error.
The stock price dropped in late April, and hasn’t recovered. Over the summer, Marchionni told the abortion-backing fashion magazine Marie Claire that she didn’t regret bringing “women’s equality” into the public eye, though she did say abortion promotion was not intended with the Easter catalog. (For more from the author of “Eight Months After Abortion Flap, Lands’ End CEO Out” please click HERE)