Destination Maternity CEO Krell steps down

Destination Maternity CEO Edward M. Krell said "this was a logical time for a change in leadership and a logical time for me to pursue other opportunities."
Destination Maternity CEO Edward M. Krell said "this was a logical time for a change in leadership and a logical time for me to pursue other opportunities." (Inquirer, file)
Posted: August 13, 2014

Edward M. Krell is stepping down as chief executive of Destination Maternity Corp. "to pursue other opportunities," the Philadelphia-based apparel retailer announced on Monday.

Krell, 52, will be succeeded by Anthony M. Romano, a member of Destination Maternity's board.

The change comes after the company's July 25 announcement that it had dropped its bid to acquire Mothercare, a British retailer of maternity and children's products. Mothercare's board rebuffed two offers.

Five days later, Destination Maternity, which operates A Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity stores, reported disappointing fiscal third-quarter earnings that it said "were considerably weaker than planned."

Krell took the helm in September 2008, as the economy was plunging into recession, leaving retailers in the red. Under his leadership, profits rose at Destination Maternity, founded in 1982 as Mothers Work by Philadelphian Rebecca Matthias.

The company, with more than $500 million in annual sales, plans to move its corporate headquarters and distribution network from Spring Garden Street to South Jersey. Management said last month that the headquarters has been sold to an undisclosed buyer; the sale is expected to close by Sept. 30.

"After leading the team that significantly strengthened the company over the past six years as CEO, the board and I decided that this was a logical time for a change in leadership," Krell said in a statement Monday, "and a logical time for me to pursue other opportunities."

Board chairman Arnaud Ajdler said that under Krell's leadership "the company made important progress," including "strengthening management, enhancing operations, improving financial performance, and increasing shareholder value." Krell joined Destination Maternity in 2002 as chief financial officer.

Romano, 52, has had executive-leadership positions at publicly held retailers including Ascena Retail Group Inc., Bensalem-based Charming Shoppes, and ANN INC.

He brings "both extensive knowledge of retail operations and a demonstrated ability to lead and influence the creative side of the business," Ajdler said. "His passion for understanding and connecting with customers will support our efforts to deliver exciting product assortments and excellent shopping experiences."

Ajdler was previously a partner and senior managing director at Crescendo Partners, which was instrumental in ousting Charming Shoppes chief executive Dorrit Bern in 2008 and positioning Charming for its sale in 2012 to Ascena Retail Group. Since February 2013, Ajdler has been a managing partner at Engine Capital Management.

Romano joined Charming in 2009 as executive vice president of business transformation/global sourcing. He was named interim chief executive in October 2010 and CEO in March 2011. He remained Charming's president and CEO after its sale to Ascena in May 2012, and was a member of Ascena's executive leadership group until March 2013.

Destination Maternity operates 575 stores and 1,326 leased-department locations. Shares closed down 0.18 or 0.90 percent, to $19.75 Monday.


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