Earlier this week, Aeropostale fired CEO Thomas Johnson and announced his replacement: former CEO Julian Geiger, who ran the chain from 1996 to 2010 before leaving to lead Crumbs Bake Shop from 2011 through 2013.
You might be scratching your head at this one: it was Geiger at the helm when the cupcake chain went bust this summer.
But perhaps that little SNAFU can be explained away by the Peter Principle. At least that’s what this PRNewser reads between the lines in Chairman Karin Hirtler-Garvey’s description of Geiger as “an ideal choice” and her reminder that “Julian was the leader of Aeropostale’s strategic direction during a period of significant growth.”
Forbes’ Claire O’Connor reads the hire as “desperate.” Indeed, if you were to paint Aeropostale’s future by the numbers, it is a bleak picture:
- 8 — the number of straight quarters same-store sales have declined.
- 4 — the number of months Aeropostale has topped the ‘Brands No Longer Worn’ list among teenage boys.
- 18 — the number of months Aeropostale has topped the ‘Brands No Longer Worn’ list among teenage girls.
- 19 — the percentage of parents surveyed who would consider buying their under-18s clothes at the chain according to the most recent YouGov poll. (By comparison: Walmart-60%, Target-47%, H&M-26%, Forever 21-22%)
- 12 — the number of months Aeropostale has left given their current cash burn rate according to Piper Jaffray analyst Steph Wissink.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? So is there any hope? Will Geiger turn it all around?
O’Connor thinks not, labeling Geiger’s lauded growth period as that of “ancient history,” and has Wissink chime in for the expert opinion.
“[Teens] gravitate towards brands like Nike with very discreet logos. It’s exactly counter to what we saw 10 years ago.”
She added that today’s teens are accustomed to constantly-rotating, Instagram-friendly wardrobes, topped up regularly with cheap fast-fashion finds from Swedish powerhouse H&M and its American counterpart Forever 21 .
“The challenge is that [Aeropostale doesn't] have brand credibility anymore.”