Ardrey will join the company on November 1, 2022
Ardrey will replace Rob Wallstrom, who will remain with the company through December 2022 to act as an advisor to Ardrey and ensure a smooth transition
FORT WAYNE, Indiana, Sept. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Vera Bradley, Inc. (Nasdaq: VRA) (the “Company”) today announced that Jacqueline Ardrey will join the Company as President and Chief Executive Officer ( “CEO”), effective November 1, 2022, replacing retiring President and CEO Robert Wallstrom. Wallstrom will work closely with Ardrey through December 2022 to ensure a smooth transition. Ardrey will also join the company’s board of directors on November 1, 2022.
Ardrey is an accomplished, results-driven executive with over 25 years of experience in multi-channel retail companies. Since 2018 she has held the post of President of catalog retailer of home furnishings and seasonal decoration, Grandin Road, part of the Qurate Retail Group. Ardrey was previously CEO of Trading Company Holdings and Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Supply Chain for legendary omnichannel gourmet and gift brand Harry and David. Prior to that, she spent 14 years at Hanna Andersson, a high-end multichannel children’s retailer, in a variety of roles of increasing responsibility including senior vice president of merchandising, design and wholesale. Ardrey began her retail career at the May Company.
Robert Hall, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vera Bradley, Inc., commented, “Jackie Ardrey is a highly accomplished retail executive, strategic leader, talent incubator and innovative thinker with a strong record of operational excellence. On behalf of the entire Management Board, I am very pleased to welcome her to the company. We are confident that Jackie will be instrumental in developing the full potential of our two lifestyle brands, Vera Bradley and Pura Vida, and providing our stakeholders with consistent, sustainable growth and value over the long term.”
“I have long admired Vera Bradley, Inc. and believe that both the Vera Bradley and Pura Vida brands have untapped potential in the marketplace,” commented Ardrey. “I look forward to working closely with the talented leadership team and Board of Directors to build on the company’s legacy, capitalize on its many opportunities and drive long-term, profitable growth.”
Hall continued, “On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank Rob Wallstrom for his leadership, creativity, vision and tireless work to continue to develop the company and position it for growth. I am proud to have worked with Rob over the past nine years and we are grateful for his principled and collaborative leadership.”
Wallstrom has led Vera Bradley, Inc. as President and Chief Executive Officer since 2013, leading the company’s business transformation while championing corporate social responsibility; employee engagement; diversity, equity and inclusion; and philanthropic initiatives. Wallstrom oversaw the expansion of the company’s portfolio in 2019 with the acquisition of lifestyle brand Pura Vida, which earned B-Corp certification in 2022. Under Wallstrom’s leadership, Vera Bradley, Inc. was named America’s #1 Best Midsize Employer and #11 Best Employer for Diversity by Forbes and Statista in 2022.
“It has been my honor to have served as President and CEO of the Company for the past nine years, and it has been an incredible privilege to work with our highly talented, creative and dedicated team of employees,” Wallstrom remarked. “We have driven innovation across both of our brands, built strong engagement with our employees and customers, and reinforced our purpose-driven mission. I am excited about the future of Vera Bradley, Inc. and confident that the company will thrive under Jackie’s leadership.”
Wallstrom has tendered his resignation from the Company’s Board of Directors effective November 1, 2022 in connection with Ardrey’s entry into the Company and her election to the Board of Directors effective that same date.
About Vera Bradley, Inc.
Vera Bradley, Inc. operates two unique lifestyle brands – Vera Bradley and Pura Vida. Vera Bradley and Pura Vida are complementary businesses, both with devoted, emotionally connected, and multi-generational female customer bases; Alignment as casual, comfortable, affordable and fun brands; Positioning as “gift” and socially connected brands; strong, entrepreneurial cultures; a strong focus on community, charity and social awareness; multi-channel distribution strategies; and talented leadership teams aligned and committed to the long-term success of their brands.
Based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Vera Bradley is a leading designer of women’s handbags, luggage and other travel essentials, fashion and home accessories, and one-of-a-kind gifts. Founded in 1982 by friends Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller, the brand is known for its innovative designs, iconic patterns and brilliant colors that inspire and connect women like no other brand on the global market.
In July 2019, Vera Bradley, Inc. acquired a 75% interest in Creative Genius, Inc., also known as Pura Vida Bracelets (“Pura Vida”). Based in La Jolla, California, Pura Vida is a digitally native, highly responsive lifestyle brand founded in 2010 by friends Paul Goodman and Griffin Thall. Pura Vida has a differentiated and growing range of bracelets, jewelry and other lifestyle accessories.
Safe Harbor Statement by Vera Bradley
Certain statements in this press release are “forward-looking statements” made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements reflect the Company’s current expectations or beliefs regarding future events and are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by us, including: possible adverse changes in general economic conditions and their impact on consumer confidence and spending; possible inability to predict and timely respond to changes in consumer demand; potential loss of key management or design personnel or inability to attract and retain the talent needed for our business; possible inability to maintain and improve our brands; potential inability to successfully implement the Company’s long-term strategic plan; potential inability to successfully open new stores, close targeted stores and/or operate existing stores as planned; incremental tariffs or adverse changes in the cost of raw materials and labor used to manufacture our products; potential adverse effects resulting from a significant disruption to our distribution facilities; or business disruptions caused by COVID-19 or other pandemics. Risks, uncertainties and assumptions also include the possibility that the benefits of the Pura Vida acquisition may not materialize as anticipated and that Pura Vida’s business may not perform as anticipated. Additional information about potential factors that could affect the Company’s financial results is included in the “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” sections of the Company’s public reports filed with the SEC from time to time Company, including the Company’s Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended January 29, 2022. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.
Julia Bentley, Vice President of Investor Relations and Communications