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Francesca’s Holdings CEO out, exploring alternatives

Francesca's Holdings Corp. may put itself on the selling block.

The struggling fashion apparel and accessories retailer on Thursday announced it is exploring strategic alternatives, including a potential sale of the company and a financing or refinancing. Francesca’s also said that Steve Lawrence has resigned as CEO “to pursue other opportunities,” effective February 1, 2019. It has appointed Michael Prendergast, a senior director in Alvarez & Marsal’s private equity performance improvement retail practice, as interim chief executive. He brings over 20 years of leadership experience from the fashion and consumer products industries, the retailer said.

In December, on the heels of disappointing third quarter earnings, Francesca’s said it planned to close up to 40 underperforming stores in 2019. The company, which has struggled amid online competition and fast fashion upstarts, lost $16.2 million during the third quarter that ended Nov. 3, compared with earning a $200,000 profit during the same period last year. Sales fell 10% and same-sales were down 14%.

Francesca’s, which operates some 738 stores nationwide, said it has not set a timeline for the completion of its analysis and does not expect to discuss it further unless a transaction or other alternative is approved by board or the process is concluded.
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