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Lululemon COO takes top role at fast-growing retail start-up after CEO resigns

Stuart Haselden
Stuart Haselden

The chief executive of Away is resigning following a scathing report into the company’s culture. 

Steph Korey, co-founder and CEO of the digitally native luggage and travel lifestyle brand, is stepping down as chief executive but will remain on board as chairman. She will be succeeded as chief executive by Stuart Haselden, effective January 13, 2020. Haselden is currently COO and executive VP, international, at lululemon athletica, which he joined in 2015. During his five-year tenure, Haselden helped the company double its revenues and increase its market cap from $6 billion to nearly $30 billion.

Prior to lululemon, Haselden spent nine years at J.Crew Group as CFO. 

The shake-up at Away comes after an investigation by The Verge turned up allegations of a toxic corporate culture perpetuated by Korey. Following the story, which described a workplace where Korey was known for berating employees via instant messaging platform Slack, the CEO tweeted last week that she was “making things right” at the company.

“I’m not proud of my behavior in those moments, and I’m sincerely sorry for what I said and how I said it,” Korey tweeted. “It was wrong, plain and simple.”

Away told The Wall Street Journal  that it had been searching for a new CEO since the spring, implying that The Verge’s story was not the reason Korey was stepping down.  It implied the same in a statement. 

“With the immense growth of the Away brand, the complexities of our business have evolved as well," said Jen Rubio, co-founder, president and chief brand officer. "Stuart's deep experience across our three pillars of growth—product, retail, and international—and his passion for building, leading, and coaching teams will undoubtedly provide Away with the experience and leadership we need for long-term success."

Away was launched in 2016. In May, the company announced a new round of funding and was valued at $1.4 billion, giving it unicorn status. It also announced plans to expand its physical footprint, opening 50 new stores during the next three years. (The brand currently has locations in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, Boston, and London.) It also is adding more products within its existing categories and developing travel products in new categories, including apparel, wellness and lifestyle accessories.

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