One of Fashion’s Most Powerful Dealmakers Is Saying Farewell to the Firm He Founded 47 Years Ago

It’s an end of an era for Gilbert Harrison. “I love my work, I love doing things,” said the chairman of Financo, about his decision to retire after 47 years. “I want to figure out what my next step is, and I want it to be something that will be fun and productive and rewarding. I have a lot of different options and I’m going through them at this point.”

The longtime power broker, who founded his boutique investment firm 47 years ago, is stepping down on Dec. 31 as part of a five-year plan. John Berg will continue in the CEO role at Financo. Harrison said that “at this point,” he will maintain a stake in Financo.

Harrison recalled his work with many shoe industry players past and present, including Melville, Interco, ShoeTown, Nine West, Brown Shoe (now Caleres), Marc Fisher, Aldo Group, Camuto Group, DSW and many others.

Financo Inc. chairman Gilbert Harrison and BBC International founder Bob Campbell.

“There are so many companies — and so many things that were exciting,” Harrison said. “The most rewarding one was Stuart Weitzman and selling [his brand] three times. He is a good friend. He is still one of the geniuses and one of the passionate people I know.”

The Financo chief, who turns 77 on Christmas, also talked about the “Amazon effect” and the rise of the millennial shopper. “What always bothers me is the demise of great companies and the fact they haven’t been able to stay current. To me, the most critical thing is the marketplace is staying current.”

Gilbert Harrison Financo
Gilbert Harrison and Alexandre Birman.
CREDIT: Courtesy Image

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