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Designer Brands, parent company of DSW, names new CEO

Roger Rawlins
Roger Rawlins will step down as CEO of Designer Brands on April 1.

There’s going to be a changing of the guard at Designer Brands Inc.

As part of a “planned CEO transition process,” the footwear giant said that Doug Howe, president of DSW, will succeed 17-year company veteran Roger Rawlins as CEO, effective April 1, 2023.

Although Rawlins will step down as chief executive and board member in April, he will work with the company for a twelve-month period in a strategic advisor role. The company said it will conduct a search to replace Howe as president of DSW.

Rawlins joined DSW in 2006 as senior VP, controller, and went on to hold roles of increasing responsibility.  He was appointed CEO in 2015.

Howe joined the company in May 2022, after four years as chief merchandising officer at Kohl's, where he was responsible for buying, planning, product design and development, sourcing, and merchandising transformation efforts. Prior to Kohl's, he was the global chief merchandising officer at Qurate Retail Group, leading QVC's and HSN's product leadership agenda.

Howe also held leadership roles at Gap’s Old Navy division including product design and development, and at Walmart, including senior VP of product development, strategy, design and development, apparel.

In a statement, DSW executive chairman Jay Schottenstein credited Rawlins for being at the forefront of the company’s transformation from a “shoe retailer to a brand builder.”

“From launching, which now accounts for over $1 billion in demand, to leading the acquisition of our Canadian operations and integrating a world-class design, sourcing and wholesale business, Roger has been instrumental in leading Designer Brands and has set us up for success in achieving our long-range plan,” he said.

Schottenstein described incoming CEO Howe as a “strategic thinker with demonstrated history of driving results in the industry.

“His experience across brand building, including merchandising, marketing, design, development, and planning give him the expertise needed to lead this next phase of Designer Brand's growth,” Schottenstein said.

In April 2022, Designer Brands said that its owned brands would be the key driver of growth during the next five years, and that it plans to double sales of the brands by fiscal 2026. The company is targeting revenue of $4 billion and earnings per share in the range of $2.75 to $2.85 in fiscal 2026, which ends Jan. 30, 2027. (For the year ended Jan. 29, 2022, net sales totaled $3.2 billion.)

Designer Brands operates nearly 650 stores under the DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse and The Shoe Company banners. The company also designs and produces footwear and accessories through Camuto Group, a leading manufacturer selling in more than 5,400 stores worldwide. 

Camuto Group owns licensing rights for the Jessica Simpson footwear business and footwear and handbag licenses for Lucky Brand. In partnership with a joint venture with Authentic Brands Group, the company also owns a stake in Vince Camuto, Louise et Cie and others.

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