Reiss has pulled off a significant coup by landing Christos Angelides as its new chief executive.
The man behind Next’s fashion transformation has been a fixture on headhunters’ shortlists ever since he left Abercrombie & Fitch at the end of 2015 after a brief spell as the US retailer’s brand president.
He has taken plenty of time to consider his next move, whilst carrying out a non-executive role at French Connection to help keep his finger on the fashion pulse.
The fact he has chosen to resume his career at Reiss speaks volumes both about Angelides’s admiration for the brand and his own ambitions.
There has been much talk linking Angelides with the head of clothing vacancy at M&S and Steve Rowe is known to be an admirer. But the role comes with a certain amount of baggage given M&S’s perpetual struggles with its fashion positioning and whilst Angelides may well have been the man to turn its fortunes around, ultimately he has chosen a different path and Rowe will have to resort to Plan B.
The more entrepreneurial culture of a smaller fashion retailer will surely have been an attraction for Angelides. Reiss’s positioning in the affordable luxury space will also give him plenty of opportunity to bring his product management skills to bear.
Reiss has made international growth a key target and to this end the appointment of Andy Lawrence as head of international feels like a smart move. Lawrence has a wealth of experience working in Asia in senior roles with Ralph Lauren and those skills will dovetail nicely with Angelides’s US market knowledge.
Reiss will be Angelides’s first chief executive role and there’s no reason why he won’t be a success. Occasionally, product people struggle to acquire the strategic and leadership skills required to be a great chief executive but I don’t see this being an issue with Angelides who is regarded as having excellent people skills. Moreover, he has spent long enough in the Next boardroom to know what makes a successful business tick.
He will no doubt build a strong team around him at Reiss and I expect the business to go from strength-to-strength during his tenure.
Whether he sees this as a long-term project or a stepping stone to a bigger chief executive role we will have to wait and see.