Bonobos, the online retail company that got its start by offering men's pants free from the woes of "khaki diaper butt," announced Thursday that its founder, CEO and Chairman Andy Dunn, would be stepping down (or, as the company press release describes it, "stepping up") from his role as CEO after eight years and assuming the role of Executive Chairman. Francine ("Fran") Della Badia, formerly the president of Coach's retail division in North America, will be taking on the role of CEO, effective June 1.
According to Dunn, it was he — and not the company's board — that brought about the change in roles, a move he has been contemplating for two years. "Chairman and CEO can be full-time jobs [separately]," he said in a phone interview Thursday morning. "A CEO is running the company, responsible for employees, the shareholders and the customer. As Executive Chairman, I can get a lot more focused... leading the board, being the no.1 ambassador [for the brand] and being the voice [for] innovation."
"I come at the company from a visual perspective with experience in digital," he added. "Now that we have 16 [stores], it became clear to me we needed a phenomenal operator, someone with a background on the retail operator side."
Bonobos, one of the pioneers of the direct-to-consumer retail model online, has expanded rapidly since its founding in 2007. In 2011, it launched its first brick-and-mortar "Guideshop," inviting shoppers to try on clothes and accessories and place online orders; by the end of the year, there will be 20 across the U.S. The next year, Nordstrom signed on as a backer, and today Bonobos is sold at 118 Nordstrom locations as well as Nordstrom.com. Over the past two-and-a-half years, the company has launched two sister brands: Ayr, a women's brand focused on denim and other basics, and Maide, for golf clothes and accessories. It has raised $127.6 million in funding from investors including Accel Partners, Glynn Capital Management and Lightspeed Venture Partners to date; its most recent round of funding, a $55 million Series D, was announced last July.
Dunn declined to comment on the company's sales figures and profitability status. He said there are no plans to raise additional venture capital at this time.
Dunn and Della Badia first met over dinner in the West Village five years ago. He asked, jokingly, if she would ever come work for him. "At the time, we were pipsqueak," he said. "I never thought we'd be able to attract someone of [Della Badia's] caliber. It feels like an eternity, given how much has changed [since then]."