Mimi Vaughn Is the First Female CEO and President of Genesco

Genesco Inc. has its first woman in power.

The specialty retail group — parent to teen mall staple Journeys and shoe brands Johnston & Murphy and Schuh — announced today the appointment of Mimi Eckel Vaughn as president and CEO, effective Feb. 2 at the start of its fiscal year.

Vaughn, who currently serves as the firm’s SVP and COO, has also been elected to Genesco’s board of directors, as of Oct. 30. She succeeds current chairman, president and CEO Robert Dennis, who will continue to serve as executive chairman. (Dennis has been with the company for 15 years, taking on the role of president and CEO for 11 years and chairman for the past nine years.)

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead Genesco forward as we enter the next chapter of our company’s growth, creating and curating leading footwear brands,” Vaughn said. “I look forward to working with Bob [Dennis], our management team and with our tremendously talented and dedicated employees to build on the company’s strong foundation and most recent success and [to] continue to execute on our strategic vision to build shareholder value as a leading footwear-focused company.”

In a statement, Dennis shared that Vaughn’s appointment marks another step in the firm’s succession-planning process, which began several years ago and led to her recent promotion to COO.

Vaughn joined Genesco as VP of strategy and business development in 2003 and became SVP of the division in 2006. Three years after that, she was made SVP of strategy and shared services, then took on the CFO post in 2015.

Vaughn was named COO in January 2018, formally assuming that role in May following Mel Tucker’s appointment as CFO. She becomes the 12th president and CEO in the Nashville, Tenn.-based company’s 95-year history, and the first woman to take the helm.

“She has a proven track record as an exceptional leader, demonstrated through successive roles at Genesco,” Dennis added. “I look forward to supporting Mimi and the entire management team as we work together to continue Genesco’s terrific positive momentum[, which] we have experienced since we divested Lids in February.”

In December, Genesco announced that it would offload Lids Sports Group after several years of struggling sales at the division. The athletic headwear business sold for $100 million in cash to FanzzLids Holdings, with sports licensing and e-commerce firm Fanatics Inc. making a minority investment in FanzzLids as part of a commercial arrangement connected with the deal.

During the second quarter, Genesco posted second-quarter profits that blew past expectations and lifted its outlook for the fiscal year. It marked the ninth straight quarter of positive comps for the firm’s footwear businesses.

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