LuAnn Via Leaves Payless

LuAnn Via has left her position as president and CEO at Payless ShoeSource, Footwear News has learned.

A call placed to Via’s office line Friday was met with a system message that said the number was no longer in use.

A company spokesperson said the firm had “no further comment other than that she left to pursue other opportunities.”

Market watchers contacted by FN had mixed reactions to the news.

Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser said, “I liked her [for the company], and the last time we spoke in the summer she seemed excited about the changes that were about to happen for the firm. She had a lot to do with [leading the recent turnaround].”

But Susquehanna Financial analyst Christopher Svezia said, “Now that it’s a private company, I’m not surprised … and won’t be surprised if more people leave.”

Svezia noted that Payless had been seeing improvements in the business since the fourth quarter of last year.

“Some initiatives it embarked on in terms of resetting merchandise definitely moved things in the right direction, so some credit for turning around the business [goes to her],” he said.

Last week, Paul Jones, former chief executive of Shopko Stores, was named as CEO of Payless Holdings, the new parent company for Payless ShoeSource and Collective Licensing International.

The $770 million acquisition of Payless and CLI by Blum Capital and Golden Gate Capital closed last Tuesday.

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