Who could have imagined such scandal behind the pristine, picture perfect wedding registry hot spot that is Crate and Barrel? When one reads a trend setter of American home goods retail is closing a major 4 story flagship property of 27 years in the highly trafficked Mag Mile of their hometown Chicago, a shop girl has got to wonder, what happened here?! What series of terrible no good rotten events could have lead to a 4 story sized Starbucks take over?!
When the great recession hit in 2008 Crate and Barrel was hit harder than their direct competitors Williams-Sonoma and Restoration Hardware; the primary reason, they lacked the omnichannel presence. Their CEOs until 2012 went from founder Gordon Segal to dedicated shopgirl idol Barbara Turf. Both were life long Crate and Barrel employees, and through that they were in touch with the high quality and creative unique details that Crate and Barrel was noted for, but found themselves out of touch with the growing age of technology.
“You only do beautiful work slowly and carefully. Don’t rush. Stay humble. Stay nervous.” Segal 2009
Having to work twice as hard to pick up steam as their competitors, the stakes were high, and the omnichannel movement was not happening at the speed that parent company Otto Group felt necessary to maintain a competitive edge. This resulted in the forcing out only two years later of President Marta Calle, and CEO Sascha Bopp who in his short time had gained an international footprint Crate and Barrel had never seen before.
And what a show Crate and Barrel has put on over the past two years with their newest executive team.
It seemed a natural next move to hire like minded executive from Restoration Hardware, Doug Diemoz, to make the changes that would preserve the company’s high profile reputation and still turn a profit. Diemoz’s continued professional relationship and connection with RH’s Alheim before recruiting her to the Crate & Barrel executive team a year later. RH accuses the duo of exchanging company information while Alheim was still employed there, and then further that both brought over inside operational information and utilized it to empower the Crate and Barrel brand.
The new role of CEO has already been handed off, only three weeks after Diemoz’s dramatic exit, to a new shopgirl icon: Neela Montgomery. Montgomery already a retail strategist for Crate and Barrel’s parent company Otto Group for the past 4 years, spent 12 years before that working her way up at UK based Tesco. Tesco, a diverse bargain retailer, has mastered the art of spreading its footprint through a brilliant balance of brick & mortar and online presence.
Considering Montgomery’s past experience (and the demands of Otto Group’s Crate & Barrel CEOs of Christmas past) it is safe to assume that a prime amount of her initial focus will be driving Crate & Barrel’s omni-channel presence to make it the popular and highly desired brand it was in the early 2000’s.
A huge part of the Crate & Barrel image, mission, and focus, is the dramatic modern architecture to its locations, as stated by creator Segal himself. The upkeep of these have proven costly, and I wonder if perhaps we will see a new, more efficient modern layout or if the modern architecture will be an image for Crate and Barrel’s history books in effort to lower costs and prices to attract a more diverse clientele.
3 CEOs in four short years for this once renowned home goods chain. With the executive shake ups, crawling growth, and giant scandals, I am still incredibly optimistic to see what changes Montgomery will bring to the plate.
Shopgirl Wants To Know:
- Do you prefer aesthetic and quality over price?
- What positive changes do you feel Montgomery will bring to Crate & Barrel?
Until next time fan boys and girls—>
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