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Party City veteran joins candy specialty retailer in dual role

BY Marianne Wilson

It’Sugar has a new finance head and operations officer.

The candy retailer named Mark Davis as CFO and COO, with responsibility for building and leading the systemization and integration of the operations for the continued scaling and growth of the business.

Prior to joining It’Sugar, Davis spent almost 20 years at Party City. During that time, he held a variety of senior positions, including VP of planning and allocation, CFO and chief inventory officer and COO. Davis spent several years as senior VP of corporate development and president of the wholesale division of Party City.

Prior to Party City, Davis held positions as director of financial systems and internal audit manager for Toys “R” Us.

“Mark’s vast retail expertise is an excellent addition to our leadership team,” said Jeff Rubin, CEO and founder of It’Sugar, which operates 96 stores. “His fact-based analytical approach, outstanding knowledge of the specialty retail industry, and history of implementing systems, process and controls are expected to be tremendous assets as we continue to execute our growth strategy.”

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Big change coming to Alibaba

BY Marianne Wilson

Alibaba Group will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with a crucial change at the top.

Jack Ma, the billionaire founder and executive chairman of the Chinese online giant is stepping down to pursue his ongoing interest in education. Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed Ma as chairman, effective September 10, 2019, which falls on the company’s 20th anniversary. Ma will continue as executive chairman at Alibaba during the next 12 months for a smooth transition of the chairmanship to Zhang.

“This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organizational excellence and a culture of talent development,” Ma wrote in a letter to customers and shareholders. “… Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”

Ma will complete his current term as a member of Alibaba’s board until its annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020. He is a lifetime member of the Alibaba Partnership, a group of 36 partners who are also members of senior management of Alibaba Group or its affiliates.

Ma stepped down as CEO of Alibaba in 2013, handing the reins to Jonathan Lu. Lu was replaced in 2015 by Zhang, Alibaba’s former COO, after Ma reportedly told employees that it’s time for the company to be run by people in the 1970s and after.

A former English teacher, Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 and built it into one of the world’s leading e-commerce and digital payments companies. With a net worth estimated at more than $40 billion, he is reportedly the wealthiest man in China.

In his letter, Ma wrote that he still has “lots of dreams to pursue.”

“Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle,” he wrote.” I plan on continuing my role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership and contribute to the work of the partnership. I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things – because what if new dreams can be realized?”

To read Ma’s entire letter, click here.

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Exec appointments bolster Levi Strauss’ new divisions

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Levi Strauss & Co. has named new leaders across two new divisions, as well as a new chief marketing officer.

The nation’s most iconic denim brand has promoted Marc Rosen to executive VP and president of its newly created direct-to-consumer division. He is replacing Carrie Ask, executive VP and president, global retail, who is leaving the company. Rosen, who previously executive VP and president of global e-commerce, will now be responsible for delivering a seamless consumer experience across both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce.

Prior to joining Levi Strauss, Rosen spend 15 years in various roles at Walmart. Most recently, he served as senior VP, global e-commerce, for Walmart e-commerce.

Levi Strauss also named Liz O’Neill to executive VP and president of product, innovation and supply chain, another newly created division. This new organization combines the key product functions of design, merchandising, product development and planning into a single team. It also further integrates supply chain into the consumer journey, and positions Levi’s to fully leverage emerging innovations, like the company’s Project F.L.X. jeans finish gin technology.

O’Neil, who was previously chief supply chain officer, will be responsible for the end-to-end view of the product lifecycle, from ideation to what ultimately shows up in stores and online, according to the company.

Prior to joining Levi Strauss five years ago, O’Neill was VP production and tech design at Gap Inc. Before that, product manager at Disney Stores. She was also a merchandiser at Abercrombie & Fitch, and an assistant buyer at Universal Studios.

The company also promoted Jen Sey to senior VP and chief marketing officer. Sey, who is responsible for research and marketplace insights, will report to Chip Bergh, company president and CEO.

Sey, a 19-year company veteran, was most recently chief marketing officer for the Levi’s brand.

In the wake of these changes, James “JC” Curleigh, president, global brands, will be leaving the company to pursue new opportunities.

“With these shifts, we are creating a ‘designed-for-the-future’ organization – one that is poised to take advantage of innovation and reflect how consumers shop,” Bergh said. “Levi Strauss & Co. has never been stronger, and we expect these actions to accelerate our momentum and position us to win for the long term.”

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