Esprit Chief Product Officer Quits for New Opportunities

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Esprit Holdings Ltd., the apparel seller whose two top executives quit last year, said Chief Product and Design Officer Melody Harris-Jensbach will leave the company on Oct. 31, after two years in the position.

Harris-Jensbach is leaving for “new and broader” opportunities, and will be a consultant to Esprit on several projects next year, the company said in a Hong Kong exchange filing yesterday. Esprit, based in the city, said it expects to name a replacement “in the very short term.”

“The board regrets this decision but understands the professional motivations behind it,” Esprit said. Harris-Jensbach restructured product divisions and overhauled product development operations during her tenure, it said.

Esprit, which gets more than 78 percent of its sales from Europe, last month reported its first annual loss since its 1993 listing, due to sales declines, store closures and a drop in the value of goodwill. The clothier has invested in advertising and store upgrades as it faces competition from companies including Hennes & Mauritz AB, Fast Retailing Co. and Inditex SA’s Zara.

The company lost two executives in June last year. Former Chairman Hans Joachim Koerber resigned a day after then-Chief Executive Officer Ronald Van der Vis quit. The departures fueled doubt over the company’s ability to see a transformation plan through. Van der Vis was replaced by Jose Manuel Martinez Gutierrez, a former Inditex manager.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joshua Fellman in New York at jfellman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Wong at swong139@bloomberg.net