Fleet Feet Promotes Jason Jabaut to COO, Realigns Organization for Future Growth
Brand hits record sales as it continues to outpace projections
CARRBORO, N.C., June 28, 2021 // PRNewswire // - Fleet Feet today announced the promotion of Jason Jabaut to chief operating officer, effective immediately. The move comes as the brand realigns the organization and formalizes its strategic plan for future growth around business development, brand awareness and customer retention.
Jabaut joined Fleet Feet as an operations analyst in 2006. During his tenure with the company, he has supported nearly every area of the business, including franchise development, vendor management and operations. Most recently, Jabaut served as vice president of e-commerce, overseeing all digital operations for Fleet Feet's e-commerce platform, which grew 200% in 2020.
"This past year has confirmed the importance of having the right people in the right positions at Fleet Feet," said Joey Pointer, CEO and president of Fleet Feet. "I am excited about Jason's evolution with the brand. He has been with Fleet Feet for 15 years, and deeply understands and cares about our culture. I am incredibly confident in his ability to take on this new role and continue to ensure that as we grow, we do so with the same conviction and thoughtfulness that we have done during his tenure."
In his new role, Jabaut will oversee three business units for the brand, with each unit's leader reporting directly into him, including retail operations for franchise and company-owned stores, led by Matt Werder; purchasing and vendor management, led by Catherine Moloznik; and, digital and distribution center operations, led by Jon Davis, who has been promoted to senior director of digital operations and distribution. Pointer will continue to oversee business development, led by Ben Cooke; finance, led by Brian Breedlove, who has been promoted to vice president of finance; human resources, led by Dani Tiltgen; and marketing, led by Ellen Donahue.
"I've had the privilege to learn almost every aspect of Fleet Feet's business these past 15 years, and am honored and excited to take on this new role," said Jabaut. "We're in a strong position within our industry, and I look forward to identifying and implementing new opportunities to continue to drive our strategic, long-term initiatives forward."
In addition to formalizing a new leadership and organizational structure, several new hires, and internal promotions and moves have been made to support Fleet Feet's future growth.
Robust Brick-and-Mortar & E-Commerce Sales
Fleet Feet's sales have seen their strongest months in the company's 45-year history. March 2021 was the company's all-time highest sales month with system-wide sales up 24% compared to its previous highest sales month in June 2020. This strong performance trend continued in April and May, as the combined brick-and-mortar sales were up 34%, and digital sales were up more than 300% compared to April and May 2019.
To support retail operations, Fleet Feet hired Jessica Dailey as retail operations coordinator and promoted Sara Wickman to national field marketing manager, a new role to spearhead local retail activation.
To support the continued growth with the digital customer experience, Fleet Feet hired Melissa Harward as email marketing specialist. Harward is responsible for maintaining and supporting Fleet Feet's email marketing campaigns, a new role for the brand. Additionally, Fleet Feet promoted Kate Schwartz to senior content marketing specialist, Carrie Taylor to customer care manager and Shelby Gardner to digital product specialist.
Quickly Approaching 200 Stores
This year, Fleet Feet has opened five new stores - most recently opening its fourth location in Cincinnati, Ohio - bringing the total store count to 186. The brand expects to open an additional eight stores by the end of the year in markets across the country, including expanding its presence in Austin, Texas and Charleston, S.C.
"We're exploring new markets with franchisee and operating partners, and looking to double-down in markets we believe are poised for continued growth," said Pointer.
To support store and market expansion, Fleet Feet promoted Wisam Ali to franchise sales and development coordinator.
Talent Acquisition, Retention & DEI Remain Top Priorities
Fleet Feet has a continued focus on talent acquisition and recruitment, especially at the store level, and has hired Jamal Shipp as talent acquisition manager. Shipp is responsible for attracting top candidates to the organization, identifying internal talent for growth opportunities, and building comprehensive strategies around employment branding, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives.
"Our employees are the lifeblood of Fleet Feet, which means finding the best talent is critical for success," said Pointer. "Building a People First culture, and providing opportunities for personal growth and development are at the core of our strategy, so every current and future employee from the store level to Store Support Team and Distribution Center knows Fleet Feet is invested in them and their long-term future with the brand."
Fleet Feet continues to invest in its supply chain infrastructure further building out its roster of full-time employees. The company promoted Anthony Pendola to senior manager of distribution and Ashley Vorshak to operations manager. Stacy Stover has been hired as data coordinator to manage vendor product catalogs, SKU maintenance, and monthly markdowns, as well as assisting with maintaining the distribution center's databases. Additionally, Fleet Feet hired 13 new fulfillment associates.
Further supporting its centralized buying and distribution system for footwear, ensuring the right product assortment is in each market and flowing from distribution centers to stores, Fleet Feet promoted Nick Krouse to senior manager of the footwear category, and hired Kim AuBuchon as footwear buyer to assist with sales analysis, product performance reporting, forecasting and assortment creation.
Jennifer Weidenburner has been promoted to assistant controller, and Ashley Arnold and Coleman Conley received title changes to better reflect their roles within the company; Arnold is now head of content and Conley is manager of business intelligence.
Additionally, five operating partners have been promoted to manage stores in new markets. Chris Braker now oversees the Fleet Feet stores in Syracuse, N.Y., Hannah Schwab oversees the store in Delray Beach, Fla., Scout Judd oversees the store in Mishawaka, Ind., Lisa Stanford oversees the store in Pleasanton, Calif., and Nick Stump oversees Fleet Feet's flagship store in Sacramento, Calif.
In 2020, Fleet Feet prioritized a transparent and focused approach in tackling the underrepresentation of the Black community within its system, from customers to employees to franchise owners.
SOURCE Fleet Feet
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