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Esprit appoints new leadership in latest attempt to resuscitate the brand

Fashion group Esprit has appointed Mark Daley as its new CEO, charged with continuing the herculian task of rebuilding the crippled business.

Daley, who took over the helm of the group on January 1, replaced German Anders Kristiansen who exited the company last month along with its chief financial officer. Both men had led the business through its court-protected European restructuring.

Daley has spent more than 35 years holding various executive positions across the globe with international brands including Smythson of Bond Street, Ralph Lauren, DFS Group and most recently Billy Reid. He said he is honoured to be given the opportunity and be entrusted by the board of directors and shareholders “to be the next steward of the iconic Esprit brand”.

Along with the Daley, the Hong Kong-listed fashion house has named Chiu Christin Su Yi as acting executive chairman; Wolfgang Schlangmann as its new European recovery chairman and senior advisor to the Hong Kong Board; and Wan Yung Ting as the company’s new chief product development officer.

On Friday (January 8) group COO and executive director Marc Andreas Tschirner announced his immediatel resignation from the company as well.

Experienced retailer Hang-so Liu was appointed an independent non-executive director on the same day.

On January 1, Esprit’s board appointed Chiu Christin Su Yi as acting executive chairman following the resignation of Dr Raymond Or Ching Fai as a non-executive director of the company and non-executive chairman of the board.

Yi, who has been appointed as an executive director and group legal and public relations officer of the company since July 2020 previously worked at Hogan Lovells, an international firm with offices globally and Remedios and Company, a boutique law firm situated in Vancouver, Canada. 

Schlangmann, who has more than 40 years of experience in the fashion industry, served as CEO of s.Oliver Asia and s.Oliver Turkey prior to founding his own garment and sourcing services business. Ting previously worked for Taiwanese Far Eastern Textile, focusing on the applications of functional fabrics and sports brands.

Over the last decade, the embattled clothing chain has quickly cycled through a number of CEOs which include Ronald Van der Vis, Jose Manuel Gutierrez and Kristian Andersen, with each restructuring effort seeing only muted effect to date.

The new management team is based in Hong Kong, no longer in Germany, where Esprit’s headquarters was relocated several years ago.

The changes follow the additional of Hong Kong-based North Point Talent as Esprit’s largest shareholder last July. The retailer has also changed its financial year to end in December.

Last September, the group reported a 21-per-cent decline in sales for the year to June 30 of US$1.277 billion. Germany, its most important market, was put into bankruptcy protection last summer, and its venture with Mulsanne Group to relaunch Mainland China was abruptly called off.

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