New Fashion CEOs More Likely to Be Female With Digital and Deep Retail Know-How, According to Nextail Report

  • Fashion companies appointed over 100 new CEOs in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • New leadership choices show patterns of strong executives ready to meet both short- and long-term industry goals. 

The modern fashion CEO is digitally savvy and ecologically aware, according to new research by algorithmic merchandising firm Nextail, which looked at the skill-set of over 100 newly appointed CEOs of leading fashion brands.

The report, published today, also highlighted the growing number of women taking on the top job.

Nextail is a SaaS platform that enables agile merchandising decisions. Its latest report looks at the major fashion retail CEO appointments made in 2020, primarily in Europe and the USA.

“This report shows that despite the consequences of Covid-19, businesses were planning for the future as much as attempting to deal with immediate issues,” says Nextail CEO and Co-Founder, Joaquin Villalba. “The hiring of fashion retailers reflect their strategies for succeeding in the new retail landscape, entrusting leadership who will lead the way towards making fashion retail a better, more sustainable place.” 

This is the second year running that Nextail has produced this report, and it provides an interesting snapshot of where the fashion retail sector is heading as it grapples with a number of issues.

‘Fashion’s Newest CEOs at the top of 2021’ notes that after a flurry of activity in the first quarter of the year, the appointment process slowed down until after the first set of lockdowns were over. However, the priorities seemed to remain constant: deep fashion and a well-rounded retail background, 63.7% of hires had existing C-Level experience; while setting forward-looking priorities, such as digital transformation and sustainability.

The rise of the female fashion CEO is notable. In comparison with outgoing predecessors, female leadership grew by 95.1%, reaching more than 40% of turnover cases, including: Helena Helmersson at H&M and Sonia Syngal at Gap. Importantly, their skill-set matches the new paradigm. Helmersson has come in with a strong sustainability brief while Syngal has a strong retail operations and analytical background.

Of the CEOs who left their posts in 2020, the average time spent in the job was almost 8 years, not including those who lasted only a matter of months.

Read the full report here –