Christos Angelides’ product background and international experience make him the right choice to lead Reiss, industry insiders said this week.
More from: Analysis: Angelides ‘a great fit’ for Reiss
“This is a great fit,” said one Drapers reader after the announcement on Monday that Angelides will join Reiss as chief executive at the end of March. “I worked with Christos for many years at Next and he’s a very strong, natural leader with an unparalleled eye for great product. Looking forward to seeing what he does with Reiss.”
Angelides spent 28 years at Next, 14 of which were on the main board as group product director. He left to become president of Abercrombie & Fitch, based in the US, in October 2014 but left abruptly in December 2015 and returned to the UK.
He joined French Connection as an independent non-executive director in March 2016, but will stand down on 28 February. He also holds an advisory board member role at River Island, it is not clear if this will continue.
It had also been rumoured in recent weeks that he was in the running for the chief general merchandise job at Marks & Spencer.
At Reiss, Angelides will succeed Drapers’ Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 winner David Reiss, who founded the business 46 years ago. Reiss will remain as chairman.
One headhunter said he was surprised when Angelides was linked to the Marks & Spencer role as he had expressed no interest in joining the retailer. He added that Reiss was “a completely different kettle of fish” to M&S in terms of size, scale and the job that needs to be done, so it was a better fit for the Next veteran.
However, he said that working for an owner-founder would be no easy task: “David Reiss is a hard taskmaster [while] Christos has a completely different style, so it will be interesting to see how they manage that relationship. They say the carrot has more effect than the stick but let’s see.”
Angelides’ international experience is another a plus point. Private equity firm Warburg Pincus bought a majority stake in Reiss last April, prompting a programme of expansion focused on North America, Asia and Australia.
Another recruitment source said: “I think he’s a great man for the job. International expansion is a target for Reiss and he’s had good, useful experience in the US, if a little bruised. He is very experienced in retail, he is brilliant with product and he was a main board director at Next for many years, so he knows how to run a business.”
She added: “If David had chosen someone with an ecommerce or international background, he would continue to have free rein over product, but not with Christos. David said he will step back but the founder never really does.”
One supply source who worked with Angelides at Next said: “Abercrombie & Fitch wasn’t a great move for him. It didn’t move with the times and had really lost its momentum in the UK. He will want to do well at Reiss, as it’s his last real chance at a big role in the UK. He’s well placed to make sure the Reiss offer is right.”
Angelides said he had “long admired” the strength of the Reiss brand and its emphasis on affordable luxury.
Reiss added: “I am delighted that Christos has agreed to lead Reiss and look forward to working closely with him to ensure an orderly succession. He brings significant retail experience, which will be invaluable as Reiss grows into a truly global fashion brand.”
Andy Lawrence has also joined Reiss as head of international from Ralph Lauren, where he held a series of senior roles in Asia-Pacific including head of Korea and Taiwan and senior director of business development for the region.