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Exclusive: Thomas Pink COO joins East as interim CEO

Erica Vilkauls, chief operating officer at Thomas Pink, has been appointed interim chief executive of womenswear retailer East, two months after the firm was sold, Drapers can reveal.

Vilkauls joined Thomas Pink in 2014 and was previously buying and merchandising director LK Bennett from 2006 to 2009. She was head of merchandising and business lead of change management at John Lewis from 2003 until 2006.

“Erica has over 30 years experience in retail, from the shop floor to the boardroom and her experience will contribute to the revival of a niche womenswear brand,” said an East spokeswoman.

In September Drapers exclusively revealed that Fabindia, the owner of East, sold an 80% share in the womenswear retailer to New York-based investor Rahul Kakar of Crore Capital.

East’s former chief executive, Suzi Spink, decided to leave the business as a result. Kakar took on the role of executive chairman.

East entered administration in June last year, later blaming an “inconsistent” approach to design for its heavy losses.

A new company called East Lifestyle bought certain parts of the business back in a pre-pack deal worth £3.4m. East Lifestyle’s sole shareholder is Indian retailer Fabindia, which has been a majority owner of East since 2012.

More than 550 employees were transferred across to the new company last year, but 156 were made redundant as a result of the closure of 19 stores and five concessions.



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