Carter Hawley Hale Stores said Tuesday that it has chosen the man who led the turnaround of an ailing British retailing giant to succeed retiring Chief Executive Philip M. Hawley and to implement an ambitious recovery strategy for the Los Angeles-based department store chain.
Carter Hawley Hale, parent of the Broadway stores, said David Dworkin, chairman and chief executive of the rejuvenated London-based Storehouse, will become chief executive April 1. Hawley, who announced his retirement plans four months ago after 24 years at the helm of Carter Hawley, will remain chairman until the board selects a successor.
Dworkin, 49, a native of Cleveland who used to work for Carter Hawley's former Neiman Marcus division, is known as a shrewd merchandiser. He is taking over during a crucial transition period for the Broadway, which is seeking to revamp its image and attract more youthful customers. Dworkin is expected to oversee the remodeling of stores, some merchandise changes and the development of new display and advertising strategies--all designed to accomplish a Broadway make-over.
The selection is the latest step in Carter Hawley's efforts to chart a new course. Samuel Zell, general partner of Chicago-based Zell/Chilmark Fund, which is Carter Hawley's principal owner, said the hiring of Dworkin is a "tremendously significant and exciting development" for Carter Hawley.
"David Dworkin is a proven star in the retailing industry," Zell said.
Dworkin, speaking by telephone from his London home, said "youthful" is an attitude that can be ascribed to shoppers--regardless of age. He said he plans to help the company eschew the stodgy image some have ascribed to the Broadway stores.
"Our image will have to be more youthful and we'll have to generate that image by approaching the business with more enthusiasm," Dworkin said. "We'll need to be more theatrical in our store displays and presentations because the California shopper has great taste and flair."
The Carter Hawley Hale post is the latest stop in Dworkin's retailing odyssey. Before joining Storehouse in London in 1989 as chairman and chief executive of its British Home Stores division, Dworkin served as president of Bonwit Teller in New York.
He is also former president of Neiman Marcus, a position he held when the Dallas-based chain was a division of Carter Hawley. The upscale chain was spun off as an independent company in 1987 as part of a successful effort to thwart a corporate takeover of Carter Hawley.
That anti-takeover defense is widely viewed as the beginning of the mounting debt that ultimately helped force Carter Hawley into a Chapter 11 bankruptcy court proceeding two years ago. A reorganized Carter Hawley emerged from bankruptcy last October.
Dworkin was selected partly because Carter Hawley executives were familiar with his work, Philip Hawley said in an interview.
"He worked for us, we knew him and saw him perform," Hawley said. "He is superbly equipped to do this job. He has the attributes and knowledge to be chief executive. The stint at Home Stores has seasoned him."
Carter Hawley is counting on Dworkin to engineer the kind of turnaround that Storehouse experienced. Storehouse is parent of British Home Stores, a 140-store chain that offers moderately priced apparel and other department store merchandise.
During Dworkin's tenure, 1,000 jobs were eliminated as part of a cost-cutting effort--leaving about 15,000 people in the company's work force. Much of the company's middle management was also eliminated as part of a bid to improve communications between top management, the sales force and customers, Dworkin said.
As a result of some of the changes, the bottom line at Storehouse has improved. In its fiscal year ended last March, Storehouse reported a profit of $28.9 million--more than double the earnings of the previous year.
However, some analysts caution Dworkin against simply transferring management techniques used at Storehouse to Carter Hawley.
"Unless he goes out and visits (Broadway) stores, he won't know what problems to solve," said Robert Kahn, editor of Retailing Today, an industry newsletter published in suburban San Francisco.
Some analysts are optimistic about Dworkin's prospects.
"He knows fashion retailing and can help the company create a fashion strategy," said industry analyst Walter Loeb of New York-based Loeb Associates.
A financial resurgence is needed at Carter Hawley. The company reported net income of $832.7 million for the 35 weeks ended Oct. 3. However, that performance was largely because of the bankruptcy reorganization, in which the company discharged debt totaling $304.4 million.
Besides the Broadway, Carter Hawley operates the Emporium and Weinstocks stores. In all, 71 of Carter Hawley's 83 stores are in California.
Changes at Carter Hawley Hale
The New Leader:
David Dworkin is now chairman and chief executive of London-based Storehouse, parent of British Home Stores retail chain. He will assume his new duties as chief executive at Carter Hawley in April. Previously Dworkin served as president of Bonwit Teller, president of Carter Hawley Hale's Neiman Marcus division and executive vice president of Marshall Field.
Dworkin faces three primary challenges in returning Carter Hawley to financial health:
Challenge: Expand customer base.
Strategy: Dworkin plans to lure more youthful shoppers and develop new marketing and merchandising schemes. While at British Homes Stores, he boosted apparel sales, something that Carter Hawley believes it must do to succeed.
Challenge: Remodel Broadway stores to attract more customers.
Strategy: Dworkin said he plans to give stores a makeover. He directed structural changes within the British Home Stores chain.
Challenge: Cut costs further.
Strategy: Dworkin wants to reduce any unnecessary middle management to improve coordination and communication between top management and the sales force. Analysts say he accomplished that kind of cost-cutting at British Home Stores.
Revenue and Earnings:
Burdened by debt and pinched by recession-related sales declines, Carter Hawley Hale, parent of Broadway stores, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 11, 1991. A reorganized Carter Hawley emerged from bankruptcy Oct. 8, 1992, and is beginning to show some profit.