Searles Exiting Wilsons Post

The departures at Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc. have extended to the corner office.

The departures at Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc. have extended to the corner office.

Chief executive officer Michael Searles will leave the top spot at the leather outerwear and accessories retailer sometime on or around Thursday, said the company.

Last month, Wilsons laid out plans to close 160 stores and cut more than 1,000 jobs to reduce costs, while refashioning its 100 remaining stores into a new "studio" concept focusing on women's accessories.

Searles, 58, who will also resign as a director of the company, will stay on as a consultant for six months. He has been ceo since December 2004. The firm plans to name a successor over the next few months.

Earlier this month, Wilsons reported losses that more than doubled to $77.5 million for the year ended Feb. 2 as sales fell 12.7 percent to $280.4 million.

"We missed the mark on improving top and bottom line, and as a result have taken a step back from a working capital perspective," said Searles at the time. "We do not believe that a mall-based specialty leather outerwear concept is relevant any longer in today's marketplace."
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