Today, after weeks of rumblings about changes afoot at Reiss, it was announced that Christos Angelides had been appointed chief executive.
The initial response from the industry contacts I spoke to today was overwhelmingly positive. Known primarily for his 28 years at Next, latterly as group product director, Angelides has carved out a great reputation for himself in the industry – a reputation that doesn’t seem to have suffered any damage from his sudden departure from Abercrombie & Fitch at the end of 2015.
His experience at Next will stand him in good stead at the helm of Reiss. Angelides has regularly appeared in the Drapers Top 100 list of the most influential people in fashion retail, thanks to the respect for his product collections across categories. Back in 2010, a former Drapers reporter described him as having “a fearsome reputation for knocking Next’s up-and-coming buyers into shape and negotiating favourable terms with suppliers”. Every high street retailer needs that in their arsenal.
We have long debated who would finally succeed the chain’s founder-owner, David Reiss. When we interviewed him in 2015, Reiss made it clear that only a product person would do – and he reiterated this focus on product as he accepted the Lifetime Achievement gong at the Drapers Awards last November. Angelides certainly fits the bill. Reiss is also known to admire American retailing, and Angelides’ time at Abercrombie & Fitch gives him experience in that area.
Although Reiss has been known to be very hands on in the business, now in his seventies, he seems ready to take a step back. However, it may take a while to prise his fingers from the steering wheel, particularly as he is staying on as chairman (Reiss has previously claimed he has never missed a buying day). Angelides’ challenge will be to shape the company in his own vision, while keeping his forthright chairman on board.
Reiss’s expansion will come from international growth, so a top priority for Angelides will be hiring to support this strategy. Restructuring the top team was one of his first moves at Abercrombie & Fitch and it is likely we will see the same at Reiss. It has been announced that Andy Lawrence has also joined Reiss as head of international from Ralph Lauren and it is paramount that Angelides expands on this to get the right team around him to expand on a global level.
Although Angelides has not operated at a premium level before, the appointment seems like a good one for Reiss. We await details of his strategy with interest.