Citi Trends CEO Jason Mazzola leaves abruptly

  • Signs for push-out forces
  • After two years on the job
  • Praise and good wishes for Mazzola
  • Bruce Smith taking over in the interim
  • Search for a successor

(exechange) — Savannah, Georgia, March 23, 2017 — Jason Mazzola, chief executive of Citi Trends, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Citi Trends, Inc. in a news release on Thursday, March 23, 2017, Jason T. Mazzola leaves the post as Chief Executive Officer at the retail clothing chain in a surprising move after two years on the job, effective immediately.

No company wants a CEO to flame out in the first years.

Citi Trends will undertake a search for a successor.

Mazzola’s duties are taken over in the interim by Bruce Smith, currently Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Citi Trends, Inc.

Citi Trends also announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Ed Anderson as Executive Chairman, effective immediately.

“To pursue another opportunity”

The sudden management change is explained as follows. Citi Trends said: “Jason Mazzola has resigned as CEO and a director of the Company to pursue another opportunity.”

The phrase “to pursue another opportunity” is often used in corporate announcements and opens the door to speculation.

Precise information about the future plans of Mazzola was not immediately available.

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Citi Trends, Inc. since October 2015.

Nantahala holds 5.42 percent stake

Nantahala Capital Management, LLC reported a 5.42 percent stake in Citi Trends, Inc. as of December 31, 2016. Nantahala is a hedge fund.

Chaired by R. Edward Anderson

Citi Trends, Inc. is chaired by R. Edward Anderson.

Anderson has served as Chairman of the board of directors since May 2006 and as a director since 2001. He served as CEO of the Company from 2001 to April 2009 and returned to that position in January 2012, and he served as Executive Chairman from October 2011 to January 2012 and from April 2009 to April 2010. Anderson retired as CEO effective March 21, 2015.

On the job as CEO since 2015

Jason T. Mazzola has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Citi Trends, Inc. since March 22, 2015.

Mazzola has served as President and Chief Executive Officer and as a director since March 2015.

Mazzola served as Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer of the Company from February 2012 to March 2015.

From May 2011 to February 2012, Mazzola was the Chief Merchandising Officer of ideeli Inc., an online apparel retailer.

From November 2009 to May 2011, Mazzola served as a consultant and Executive Vice President of Sales and Design for Long Street Industries Inc., an apparel wholesaler.

From 2001 to 2009, as well as from 1993 to 1996, Mazzola was employed in various merchandising positions with TJX Companies, Inc., including Senior Vice President/General Merchandise Manager-Ladies Sportswear, Shoes, Domestics and Giftware of the A. J. Wright division.

At the time of Mazzola’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer at Citi Trends, Anderson had said: “When I came back to the Company at the beginning of 2012, my job was to lead a turnaround of the Company. That work is largely complete as the Company just reported a very successful 2014 and again is in strong financial condition. The successful turnaround of Citi Trends could not have been done without Jason Mazzola. He is an extraordinarily skilled merchant, leader and executive. He has earned this promotion and he will do well.”

Unplanned

As a general rule, when a top leader announces to step down with no permanent successor in place, it’s a signal that the change was unplanned and too early.

Signs for push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Jason Mazzola’s move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 13.2017 ($).