Royal Robbins has named Francisco Morales president of the company. Dan Costa, majority owner and CEO, will continue in his current role, overseeing the future growth of the company and brand strategy.
Morales, who is now a part owner in the company but declined to say what percentage his investment amounted to, joined Royal Robbins in November 2002. In his new role, he will be responsible for day-to-day management of the company in addition to his current duties, which include product design, development and sourcing. Morales has extensive experience in the apparel industry, having served as director of product development and packaging at Dick's Sporting Goods in Pittsburgh, Pa., and raw materials sourcing manager at L.L. Bean, Inc. in Freeport, Maine.
"Francisco has been here for eight months. He has won my absolute approval and he knows this business inside and out," Costa told SNEWS. "We talked about him becoming president when he was hired because the bottom line is, Francisco is a professional in this industry and knows more about the garment business than I ever will -- he's a pro."
Morales told us that we shouldn't expect any dramatic changes and that this change in the day-to-day responsibilities is more of a "finishing off the execution of a plan." He did allow that because of his influence, the spring '04 line was going to be more upbeat and different than anything Royal Robbins' customers had seen before.
"With the spring '04 line, normally what would drive the development of the product line is you start the season in New York and make a few trips to Europe and then you get going with the line," Morales told us.
"This year, we changed that approach and instead decided to go to our key retailers, our customers, and ask them what they would like us to do and what they told us loud and clear was to be fun and unique -- take a risk," Morales said.
"So, when we went into the design process, we put all the statistical data on the back burner, such as how many Billy Goat shorts we sold last year, and took a look at each item from the standpoint of 'is this fun' and 'is this unique.'"
Other staffing changes at Royal Robbins include Amy Holmes-Novak, previously merchandise manager at Royal Robbins, being promoted to U.S. sales manager and Shannon Parks as the design manager at Royal Robbins. Parks will be responsible for managing men's and women's design and fit. Parks has a strong design background in the outdoor apparel industry, having served as the designer at Pacific Trail in Seattle and L.L. Bean prior to joining the Royal Robbins team.
SNEWS View: With Morales in charge of the day-to-day, expect Robbins to shine more than ever. No slight at Costa, but he was wearing too many hats, as entrepreneurial owners are apt to do and while that turned the numbers around for the company, it also held back innovation and the company's ability to take design risks. Morales, who SNEWS had the chance to sit down with at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market this year, is a breath of fresh air and energy and an absolute joy to interview. His talent is immense and his passion for the apparel industry and the outdoor market is immeasurable.