Away appoints its first operations and digital managers

Dive brief:

  • After a few tumultuous years for Away’s C suite, the brand on Wednesday expanded its management team with three new executives, including its first COO and its first chief digital officer.
  • DTC luggage brand named Charles Liu COO, who recently served as Casper’s COO, according to details emailed to Retail Dive. Liu will lead Away’s supply chain and business technology teams, and also has leadership experience at Walmart, Shopko and Walgreens.
  • Melissa Weiss has been appointed Director of Marketing, responsible for Brand Marketing, Growth Marketing, Creative and Communications. Away also nabbed former J. Crew digital director Luke Chatelain, who will take on the same role at Away.

Dive overview:

Away is recruiting new leaders to help lead a “critical phase of growth” as he deals with a pandemic that has particularly affected travel. According to the brand, the company outperformed its initial revenue estimates for 2021, allowing it to return to growth investments. In April of last year, the DTC brand has put about half of its staff on leave and laid off another 10% after its sales fell 90%.

The “Year of recovery” was marked by the expansion of its product assortment, the introduction of new collaborations with celebrities and partnerships with companies like Marriott and Kith. Today, the retailer is enlisting three new leaders to help lead its growth in key areas: operations, marketing and digital.

Appointing its first COO, the baggage brand indicated that it is making significant investments in business infrastructure as it evolves. Other outside meetings the same reveal the emphasis on sustainable growth. Weiss, the brand’s new Marketing Director, focuses on building brand affinity while driving revenue growth, and draws on the experience of well-known companies such as Lyft, Theory, Amazon Fashion and Barry’s Bootcamp.

Away’s digital chief role will define a new omnichannel customer experience for the brand, and the company is once again hiring a veteran retail executive for this role. Chatelain was responsible for digital transformation at West Elm and J. Crew, and will now oversee Away’s digital products, UX and insights teams.

“After an extremely difficult period for the travel industry, we have capitalized on growing customer demand and seen significant gains across all categories,” said Jen Rubio, CEO of Away, in a statement. “As we prepare for our next phase of growth and a critical year ahead, we are delighted to welcome Charles, Melissa and Luke to our leadership team. These talented and accomplished leaders bring an impressive depth of experience and diverse expertise to Away. “

New recruits arrive around seven months after Rubio took charge of the luggage brand, which was the end of a long line of switches in the first place. Former Away CEO Stuart Haselden left the brand in February, after just four months as the company’s sole CEO. He replaced Away co-founder Steph Korey, who initially resigned in December 2019 before decide to stay in a co-CEO role with Haselden a month later.

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