Erica Vilkauls has been named CEO of British footwear and accessories brand L.K. Bennett, the company said on Tuesday.
Vilkauls, formerly merchandise director of L.K. Bennett and most recently CEO of the high-street label East, will replace Darren Topp, who’d been in the role since September 2016. He will leave the company in April.
Patrick Woodall, chairman of L.K. Bennett, said that Topp had done an “outstanding job,” building a firm platform for the business’ future growth and contributing to improved profitability in the most recent financial year.
Topp also led the company through a period of major change, which saw it returned to the ownership of its founder, Linda Bennett.
“Having discussed the next stage of the of the company’s journey with Darren earlier this year, we agreed that now would be the right time for Darren to move on to new challenges that he had in mind, with Erica in place as his successor,” said Woodall.
Vilkauls said she was happy to be back and working with Linda Bennett. “I am looking forward to continuing the excellent work that Darren and the team have done over the past two years at this exciting time for the brand,” she said.
Topp was named CEO of L.K. Bennett in 2016, succeeding interim CEO Robert Bensoussan. He is a British retail veteran and had held senior positions at Marks & Spencer and the now-defunct BHS, where he served as CEO when Sir Philip Green owned the company.
Topp gave evidence during a parliamentary hearing into the collapse of BHS, accusing its latest owner, the three-times-bankrupt former racecar driver Dominic Chappell, of misconduct and mismanagement. Green had sold the loss-making business to Chappell for 1 pound, and last year he promised to pay up to 363 million pounds ($509 million) to fill the BHS pension fund gap.
Chappell has since been slapped with an 87,000-pound bill for failing to cooperate with the pensions watchdog as part of an investigation into the collapse of BHS.
Prior to joining BHS, Topp spent two decades at Marks & Spencer in a variety of leadership positions, including as divisional executive, head of human resources and in regional and store manager roles.