In a shakeup of its top management, SaksOff5th.com chief executive officer Paige Thomas has left the company.
WWD has learned that Thomas’ last day at Off 5th was Tuesday. HBC, the majority owner of the Saks Off 5th businesses, said in a statement that Thomas “will step down as CEO of SaksOff5th.com to pursue new opportunities outside the company.”
With the sudden departure of Thomas, who as CEO led SaksOff5th.com as well as the merchandising and marketing for both the Off 5th dot-com and stores operations, the management structure has changed. Rob Brooks has been promoted from president of the Off 5th stores to CEO of SaksOff5th.com.
Also, Jennifer Drake, who has been reporting to Brooks and held the title of senior vice president, head of the Off 5th stores, has been promoted to president of the Off 5th stores.
In 2021, HBC split the Saks Off 5th stores and e-commerce operations into separate companies, and Insight Partners invested $200 million in Saks Off 5th, becoming a minority owner, and placing a $1 billion value on the company at the time. HBC also separated the Saks Fifth Avenue brand into separate stores and e-commerce companies, and its Hudson Bay division in Canada into separate stores and e-commerce companies.
“We appreciate Paige Thomas’ leadership over these last three years as we launched the Saks Off 5th app and strengthened customer loyalty,” said Richard Baker, governor, executive chairman and chief executive of HBC, the majority owner of Saks Off 5th.
“Paige did all of this while focusing on building greater operational efficiencies,” Baker added. “I know we will see bold and exciting things from her as she pursues her next opportunity.” He gave no further explanations for Thomas’ departure.
“I have full confidence that Rob Brooks will take SaksOff5th.com to new heights as the incoming CEO,” Baker said. “He has been with the HBC family for over seven years now and truly understands the company’s values, mission and direction.”
“The institutional knowledge I have developed and the experiences I’ve had working across HBC-affiliated companies over the last seven-plus years gives me a solid foundation to take on this next chapter,” Brooks said in a statement. “I am fortunate to have a best-in-class leadership team that will take SaksOff5th.com forward with a focus on customer experience.”
Brooks has been with HBC for more than seven years. He served as chief customer officer at Saks Off 5th before becoming president of stores. HBC credited him with leading customer-centric initiatives, profit improvement strategies and operational advancements for efficiencies.
Drake joined Saks Off 5th in July 2021 after 20 years at Nordstrom, where she led different store districts and flagship locations across both full-price and off-price segments. HBC credited her with leading initiatives to improve the customer experience and implementing resources and tools to support store associates.
Thomas joined Saks Off 5th three years ago as president of Saks Off 5th and led the company through the pandemic. In 2021 she led the transaction to establish SaksOff5th.com as stand-alone digital. She was then named CEO of SaksOff5th.com. HBC credited her with launching a “refreshing of the brand identity to modernize the image, with a focus on inclusiveness, diversity and cultivating self-expression.”
In an interview with WWD last month, Thomas cited a major shift to new priorities and initiatives at the online off-price luxury retailer to drive growth, involving enhancing the loyalty program, personalization, search relevancy and the merchandising on Off 5th’s app and website.
“The important takeaway is, over the last two years we’ve focused on foundational elements with our capital spend — the supply chain, operational efficiencies, building out loyalty and launching an app. The shift this year is our capital is really focused primarily on all customer-facing initiatives,” Thomas said.
She also disclosed the appointment of Julie Mares as the senior vice president of e-commerce. “We have prioritized our capital in 2023 to really be grounded in customer-facing initiatives, which is the exact point of this new role Julie takes on,” Thomas said. She cited opportunities to improve personalization, improving the merchandising of the website, build upon the loyalty and resale programs, though she did not discuss how the business was performing.
Other key leaders include Molly Taylor, the chief merchant, and Shivi Shankaran, chief operating officer, who oversees engineering, architecture, data and analytics, enterprise IT and information security, and supply chain and logistics.