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Designer Brands Is the Latest to Hire a Chief Growth Officer — Is This Retail’s Next Big C-Suite Role?

Ella Chochrek

Designer Brands Inc. is the latest company to hop on a growing C-suite trend.

The firm announced on Tuesday the appointment of William “Bill” L. Jordan to the newly created position of chief growth officer, effective immediately.

While the role of chief growth officer may not be as familiar as other executive positions, the post is growing in popularity — and especially at large companies like Kimberly-Clark and Coca-Cola — according to Shawn Burcham, CEO and founder of PFSbrands and the author of “Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success.” Burcham says a CGO can help improve synergy across a business.

“The purpose of the CGO is to bridge ‘silos’ in departments such as: business development, sales, marketing, IT, and operations. CGOs help to better align these internal departments to focus on revenue growth by studying external market dynamics, buyer behaviors and customer preferences, while also engaging with potential prospects,” explained Burcham. “CGOs may be needed to help companies create different ways to develop their prospects and help to align internal teams to create better customer experiences.”

In the chief growth officer post at DBI, Jordan is expected to chart strategic growth opportunities for the firm. He is tasked with identifying new partnership opportunities, innovating new retail concepts and integrating operations across DBI’s portfolio, according to CEO Roger Rawlins.

“As DBI executes its growth initiatives to increase our market share, via differentiated products and differentiated shopping experiences, we believe Bill’s expertise is best utilized to help guide and grow our organization as a whole,” said Rawlins. “Bill is a seasoned executive with a unique set of skills, and we look forward to benefitting from his talents in this newly created role.”

DBI’s creation of the CGO post appears to be part of its push to bridge its retail and design/production branches. The firm, traded under the DSW ticker until its 2018 acquisition, in partnership with Authentic Brands Group, of the Camuto Group. DBI has a significant foothold in retail, with about 1,000 retail locations under the DSW, Shoe Warehouse and The Shoe Company banners. In 2018, the company stepped into the design and production space by purchasing Camuto Group through a joint venture with Authentic Brands Group. DBI has a 40% stake in Camuto, while ABG has a 60% majority stake. Under the deal, the pair acquired the intellectual property of brands including Sole Society, Louise et Cet and Vince Camuto. 

Camuto Group has taken over design, sourcing and production for DSW’s private-label brands, allowing for higher margin potential. DBI is also seeking to bolster Camuto’s wholesale business across its DSW and Shoe Company platforms. Just this month, DBI announced the launch of the JLo Jennifer Lopez shoe and accessories brand, coming this March, which is being designed and produced by Camuto Group, with product to be sold exclusively at DSW.com and in DSW stores.

Prior to being named DBI’s chief growth officer, Jordan had been serving in dual posts as president of DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse and EVP of Designer Brands. Before becoming president of DSW, Jordan held several positions at DSW (before it became Designer Brands)over 14 years, including DSW chief administrative officer, EVP and chief legal officer as well as Town Shoes president. As Jordan assumes his new post, Rawlins will serve as interim DSW president. The company is conducting a search to fill the role permanently.

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