Kit and Ace’s interim CEO lays off 35 head office employees

Upheaval comes as fashion firm seeks new CEO, COO and other executives


Paul Wilson, who is not related to the Wilson family that owns Kit and Ace, is the company's interim CEO | submitted

Rapidly growing Vancouver fashion house Kit and Ace announced February 22 that it has laid off 35 people, or about 10% of its head office staff.

“Like other tech start-ups, we are in a constant pursuit of learning, improving and adjusting our strategy,” explained interim CEO Paul Wilson in an emailed statement to Business in Vancouver.

“We’ve had an incredible year, seen tremendous growth and established an international brand.  Many of the start-up initiatives are now complete, and the initial positioning goals have been accomplished. In 2016 we'll continue to build our business, bringing focus to specific areas, while now being able to reduce our focus in others.”

Kit and Ace spokeswoman Andrea Mestrovic told BIV on February 18, before the staff cuts, that Kit and Ace had 700 employees.

BIV reported February 19 that Kit and Ace had late last year let go its previous CEO, Darrell Kopke , who had been with Lululemon as Asia-Pacific managing director.

“The board wanted a new direction as is their right,” Kopke told BIV.

Kit and Ace’s former head of IT, Clay Haeber, left voluntarily to join Vancouver-based Indochino in late January. Kit and Ace is also seeking a COO.

As for Kopke, his Lululemon connection is significant because the Wilson family that founded Lululemon owns Kit and Ace.

Family patriarch Chip Wilson, wife Shannon Wilson and son JJ Wilson are seeking a new CEO. Interim CEO Paul Wilson is not related to the other Wilsons and simply shares the name.

“We’re looking for global experience [in a CEO] because we’re expanding,” said JJ Wilson. “We need someone who understands how to scale a business operationally into international markets, and that includes logistics and product and sourcing.”

Paul Wilson shares the task of being interim CEO with also being CEO of the Wilson family’s Hold It All Inc. holding company.

Hold It All is the corporate parent for Kit and Ace, as well as the digital-meditation-course seller Whil.com, the charity Imagine1day and the family’s Low Tide Properties.

Despite the staff and executive upheaval, Kit and Ace has gone from opening its first store 19 months ago to having 61 stores today.

JJ Wilson told BIV that he expects to have at least 70 total stores by the end of the 2016.

To read a profile of Kit and Ace principal JJ Wilson, click here

gkorstrom@biv.com 

@GlenKorstrom