Gerry Weber has had turbulent times, so a little constancy can’t hurt. The appointment of Angelika Schindler-Obenhaus as CEO of the clothing company from Halle in Westphalia is in any case no surprise: Even when the manager moved up to the board from outside last summer, Gerry Weber’s announcement said that she was “temporarily” changing should take care of the operational business. Since then, the 58-year-old Schindler-Obenhaus has been whirled around by the clothing company, taking care of the areas of design, production, procurement and marketing.
She is now taking over sales from the outgoing CEO Alexander Gedat. In February 2020 Gedat switched from the Supervisory Board to the post of CEO on an interim basis; that he wanted to go back there, he never made a secret of it. He wants to be re-elected at the general meeting, and he is ready for the position of chief overseer again. “In the meantime, Gerry Weber is very well positioned, so that even external circumstances can no longer throw the company off course so quickly”, Gedat is convinced.
At the end of the shareholders’ meeting, Gerry Weber will be headed by a woman for the first time in the history of the women’s fashion specialist, founded in 1973. Even today, this is still an exception in the fashion industry, which is primarily aimed at women. Schindler-Obenhaus made it clear in her first hundred days at the company that Gerry is now a woman. Recalling the brand and who it should actually appeal to was important for Schindler-Obenhaus right from the start. For many women over 50, well-known brands have disappeared from the market and have been replaced by providers whose fit tends to appeal to younger target groups. Schindler-Obenhaus wants to focus on the fact that Gerry Weber, with his brand awareness, has a chance in this segment. At the very beginning, however, the challenge was to boost motivation in-house.
Bogged down with acquisitions
That was sorely needed: The former family company had gotten bogged down with acquisitions such as the Hallhuber Group, while sales were already falling. In 2019 Gerry Weber even slipped into bankruptcy. Even in this phase, 1,000 jobs were cut, last year another 200 employees had to leave in view of the Corona crisis, and around 2,500 people are now still working for the fashion company. Of the previously almost 800 self-operated branches, a little less than 600 stores are left, and the number of sales areas operated by partners has also decreased significantly.
The restructuring that had already been initiated has so far brought the company through the lockdowns. At the same time, Schindler-Obenhaus and her colleagues on the Executive Board have streamlined collections and canceled delivery dates. Long-term processes have been completely turned inside out, especially at the headquarters in Halle. That can scare people away – or it makes the remaining employees identify more strongly with the company again. In any case, Schindler-Obenhaus is “completely enthusiastic” about the employees. “We are optimistic about the future,” says the manager.