Pier 1 names CIO with roots in retail tech
- Pier 1 named retail technology veteran Lance Wills as EVP and CIO effectively immediately, according to a company announcement Monday.
- Wills joins the retailer with experience in "managing omnichannel platforms, supporting business transformations [and] building digital expertise" in the retail sector, according to the announcement.
- From 2016 to 2018, Wills served as EVP and global technology officer for Toys R Us. He came to the toy company after filling the role of VP and global head of digital technology at American Eagle from 2013 to 2016, after serving as Macy's VP of digital technology.
The tenure of a CIO is usually shorter than other C-suite officials, but Wills is replacing a CIO who spent less than two years at the company.
Bhargav J. Shah was appointed CIO in August 2017 with a background in e-commerce and global supply chain management. The company announced a strategic plan for investing in tools and resources needed to revamp execution for 2019 on Oct. 3, 2018.
The revamp called for about $45 million of expenditures dedicated to IT, supply chain and stores. By Oct. 12, 2018, Shah submitted his "intent to resign" to Pier 1, effective Nov. 30.
In January the company paid $130,768 in severance to the former CIO. Finding a replacement CIO is just one factor in the retailer's current C-suite upheaval.
In December CEO Alasdair James stepped down after another continuous earnings decline. James filled the role in 2017, and the company has yet to name an official replacement.
Cheryl Bachelder is serving as interim CEO. Net sales fell by nearly 12% in Q3 2018, but Bachelder publicly said during an earnings call that "the sector is performing well. So, we know the opportunity is there for Pier 1."
Despite a healthy market, the retailer is falling behind its home goods competitors. Wills' background and focus on omnichannel solutions and digital transformations will challenge Pier 1's operational efficiency.
The omnichannel experience for customers extends beyond a sleek website or mobile application, and effective transformation is dependent on strategic experimentation. But inconsistent leadership — and strategy — threaten long-term investments and completed vision.
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