For the third time in six years Mexx is forced to look for a new chief executive. Former CEO Thomas Grote's departure seemed to come out of the blue. He left only a week after discussing his resignation with the Board of Directors in Canada and Executive Chairman Lewis Lee Bird lll and Vice Chairman Rayman Leclerq have since taken over the reins.
ThomasGrote joined Mexx from Esprit in 2009. At that time the Dutch fashion brand had been without a CEO for almost a year. After talk of a 'critical point in Mexx revenue' having been reached in 2008, then CEO Jeff Fardell resigned and Tom Fitzgerald took over. Three hundred employees lost their jobs. The departure of Mexx founder Rattan Chadha in 2006 had already signaled a turning point for the brand. Before his resignation the company seemed poised for a glorious era: more expansion, more revenue, more profit and becoming a recognized brand in the US. But in 2007 Mexx's American adventure came to an end. What should have been two hundred and fifty stores became only seven, and even these eventually closed.
After a troublesome period for Mexx, the brand made a fresh start last year under leadership of a new owner. Last summer American owner Liz Claiborne sold the brand to The Gores Group for 85 million dollars. Grote guided Mexx through the take over. He had continued faith in the brand - "I believe in this brand. That drives me." - and said that he wanted to help it grow again. Late last year Grote told Dutch newspaper het Parool that Mexx would become profitable again in the fourth quarter of 2012. Beginning in 2013, ten to fifteen new store openings were in the pipeline. Grote had already cast Dutch actress Carice van Houten as the new face of Mexx.
Following the acquisition by The Gores Group, Grote planned to focus more on the mid market segment. And on wholesale, resulting in the closure of a few stores and the loss of twenty jobs at the company's head office in Amsterdam.
Speaking at the time to the Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant, Grote said: "The company has lost a great deal of human capital. Mexx's founder Rattan Chadha was the heart and soul of the business. When he left in 2007 many strong senior employees followed suit. We have to revive the organization and we're doing that with new people." Now that he himself has left the brand, Grote's remarks appear to take on a whole new meaning.