Esprit recruits Tommy Hilfiger alum as new chief product and brand officer
There's a management shakeup taking place at Esprit. The apparel group, which welcomed a new CEO in June of this year, has just named Mia Ouakim as its new chief product and brand officer. She'll be stepping into a two-for-one position, effectively succeeding both former chief product manager Rafael Pastor, who left the company in May, and Rob McIntosh, who stepped down from his role as chief brand officer at Esprit this summer, according to the German press.
Ouakim, whose appointment is effective 1 February 2019, will be in charge of the design and creative teams across all of the company's product categories and, more generally, will also oversee brand strategy and its development.
She has served as SVP for menswear and tailoring at Tommy Hilfiger since 2017, having already led the company's denim segment for three years. Ouakim has built her career predominantly in the premium and luxury sectors, working at Burberry from 2006 to 2014, where she served in a number of different roles related to products and merchandising. Prior to this, the graduate of Paris' Académie des beaux-arts also spent close to three and a half years at CWF, from 2002 to 2006
Ouakim will have a lot on her hands at Esprit, as the company has begun a drastic rationalisation plan which implies a number of layoffs and store closures, as well as a new product strategy. The goal is to offer customers a tighter, more approachable selection by reducing the number of colorways and doubling down on basics. Above all, the brand is looking to establish a clear brand identity within the lifestyle space, a factor which Esprit itself admits that it has lost over the years.
In fiscal 2017, Esprit saw its sales fall 11% in local currencies, totalling 15.455 billion Hong Kong dollars, or 1.68 billion euros. The group also deepened its net loss, which came to 2.554 billion Hong Kong dollars (278 million euros).
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