Lowe Explains "Interim CEO" Oversight

Following our news story of last week that Lowe Alpine was changing CEOs yet again -- click here to read -- SNEWS® received a conference call from both outgoing-"transitional" CEO John King and incoming CEO Dave Joyce.

Following our news story of last week that Lowe Alpine was changing CEOs yet again -- click here to read -- SNEWS® received a conference call from both outgoing-"transitional" CEO John King and incoming CEO Dave Joyce.

"I think it was a massive oversight between myself and Ruth (Henderson,
CEO of William Baird, parent company of Lowe Alpine) to not be more
clear that I was only an interim CEO," King told us.

By way of explanation, King told us that he and Ruth felt telling
everyone he was an interim CEO would only add more uncertainty to a
company picture that had dealt with more than its share of uncertainty
over the last several years.

"There were so many rumors and then, if you bring in a CEO with the
label of 'interim' it immediately indicates to everyone that the
company is really getting prepped for a sale, which it most certainly
wasn't," King said.

Added King, "I am departing a little sooner than we anticipated, but it
is a mutual thing. I came over here from the U.S. and brought my bag of
tools from my previous experience, and, working closely with Dave
(Joyce) who's been riding shotgun with me, we grappled quickly with
issues and have grasped and removed all the nettles.

"We have in place a three-year plan for the business and William Baird
is 110 percent behind us in backing that."

"Blake (Waltrip, the U.S. division president) has been closely involved
in the planning, and this week we have Geoff (O'Keefe) and Sandy
(Sincek) over from the U.S. to work on a design and operational review."

I am handing the reins over to Dave now and heading off to France to
take over the number two jeans brand there," said King. "The timing of
all this actually worked quite well."

Joyce chimed in, "I can understand the sentiment expressed in your
article, but I think it is safe to say that you will soon see the logic
behind what we are going to do with the brand and do in some short-term
measures that will give you great comfort."

"Obviously, in this industry, it takes time to see changes on the
product side and what we are doing right now, with challenging the
designers, bringing in freelancers to help with getting design and
development more fluid, will be seen over the next 18 months."

As for any more changes at the CEO level for Lowe Alpine, Joyce had
this to say to us: "The only way I will leave this company is in a box."

SNEWS® View:
Welcome to the hot seat, Mr. Joyce. From a press perspective, John King
has been a treat to interview and work with. We hope and trust that
this standard of forthright communication will continue. It has been a
turbulent last few years for the company and keeping the company
navigating through friendlier and more profitable terrain will require
some deft leadership, beginning with stability at the helm. It is no
secret that the London, England-based Alchemy Partners has expressed an
interest in taking over Baird. It is likely that Alchemy will bide its
time until Baird's financials are released in early May. At that time,
we'll see just how solid Baird's backing is for Lowe and how good
Joyce's leadership can be.


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