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Retailer on the hunt for a CFO

BY Marianne Wilson

The finance head of Advance Auto Parts is stepping down.

The auto parts retailer announced that president and CFO Tom Okray has decided to leave the organization, effective April 15, 2018. He is leaving to accept an executive role with a global, publicly traded company outside of the aftermarket parts industry, according to Advance.

Jeff Shepherd, Advance’s VP, controller and chief accounting officer, will serve as interim CFO in addition to his current duties while the company conducts a search for a permanent replacement. Shepherd joined Advance during the first quarter of 2017 from General Motors where he held various accounting and finance leadership roles, including his most recent role as controller, General Motors Europe.

“On behalf of the entire Advance organization, I want to thank Tom for his contributions and leadership,” said Tom Greco, president and CEO, Advance Auto Parts. “I also want to recognize the world-class finance organization that we have built during the past two years.”

In a statement, Okray said his decision to leave was based solely on personal and professional objectives and does not reflect any disagreement with Advance’s operational or financial practices.

“I believe the company has the right strategy to deliver on its long-term opportunities, and I wish them nothing but continued success,” he said.

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Hardware retailer names new CEO

BY Marianne Wilson

Westlake Ace Hardware has made some executive changes.

The hardware retailer, which operates 121 stores, appointed Joe Jeffries as president and CEO. He succeeds Tom Knox, who retired as CEO on March 30.

Jeffries was previously president and COO of Westlake. Prior to joining Westlake in 2014, he was CEO of A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts. Jeffries also held management positions with Office Depot and Home Quarters Warehouse.

In other changes, Andrew Schmitt has assumed the role of VP and COO. Schmitt joined Westlake in 2017 as VP of operations. Prior to that, he was a director of Retail Operations – Western Division for Ace Hardware. Before joining Ace in 2010, he held finance and procurement positions with Factory Card and Party Outlet and Allstate Insurance Company.

New CEO Jeffries take reins at Westlake during a key growth period in its 113-year history. Westlake pointed to the following recent developments:

• On March 26, Westlake finalized its purchase of The Dennis Company, a five-store retail hardware chain in coastal southwest Washington.

• In February, the company formally acquired Seaboard Ace Hardware in Raleigh, N.C.

• In January, the company finalized its acquisition of the seven-store Buikema’s Ace in the Chicagoland area.

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Former VF Corp. exec returns to head up strategic projects

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

VF Corp. has a new leader in charge of accelerating brand growth across the company.

The parent company of Timberland, Vans, The North Face, Wrangler, and other labels, has appointed Steve Murray to the new position of VP, strategic projects. He will report to VF’s chairman, president and CEO, Steve Rendle, and will also serve on the company’s senior leadership team.

In this newly created position, Murray will work closely with members of VF’s senior leadership team, global brand presidents, and others to lead work around key strategic projects. At the top of the list is elevating The North Face brand’s footwear product strategy.

He will also be tasked with integrating the Altra brand into VF, and the company’s outdoor footwear platform. VF recently announced it would acquire the Altra brand from Icon Health & Fitness.

The appointment marks a return to VF for Murray. He served as president of the company’s Vans brand for five years following VF’s acquisition of the company in 2004. He later served as president of VF’s Action Sports coalition.

Most recently however, Murray served as CEO of Airwair International (Dr. Martens), where he was responsible for leading the company’s transformation from a manufacturing-led, family owned entity to a consumer-focused, private equity-backed, global retailer. Prior to that, he served as global brand president of Urban Outfitters, and EMEA president at Deckers Brands. Earlier in his career, Murray was the global head of apparel at Reebok International.

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