NEW FACE: Los Angeles-based retailer Kitson has hired its first chief executive officer from outside the company. Chris Lee, who was senior vice president at Forever 21 and is an advisory partner at investment firm Goode Partners LLC, has stepped into the role that Fraser Ross held since he founded Kitson in 2000. “The business is so big. I have to keep to the creative side, the merchandising, and have someone to run the business,” said Ross. He added that he was impressed by Lee’s almost decade-long tenure at Forever 21 during which the retailer went from generating around $200 million to $2 billion in retail sales. Kitson has around 10 stores domestically and will grow its Japanese retail network to some eight stores by June. Within the next two weeks, the retailer will also open an in-store shop at Takashimaya in Taipei. Kitson has hired investment bank Greif & Co. to explore strategic options, but Ross said the recent Japanese earthquake and the resulting fallout has slowed the process of deciding upon a partner. “Our global growth pattern can be quite large. We’ve got interest from all over the world for partners. We are just trying to figure out what to do right now,” he said.
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