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Aritzia gets new CEO: Jennifer Wong

Aritzia's fiscal 2022 profit increased by more than eight times
The Aritzia store at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver mall opened in mid-2020 | Rob Kruyt

Vancouver fashion retailer Aritzia Inc. (TSX:ARTZ) has appointed Jennifer Wong as CEO, while current CEO, Brian Hill, becomes executive chair. 

Wong has been president and COO at Aritzia since 2015. She started as COO in 2007. Before that she was vice-president of support operations, manager of a shoe department and a store's assistant manager. She joined Aritzia as a style advisor in 1987, according to her LinkedIn page.

"It sounds like they've made a really good decision overall, in terms of picking someone loyal to the company,  to continue to move it forward," said retail analyst and Retail Insider Media owner Craig Patterson. 

"Wong knows the company inside and out, and upside down at this point."

Aritzia said in a statement that Hill has "no immediate plans to make changes in [his] share ownership position."

He lauded Wong, and said, "our tremendous success is a result of Jennifer's contributions. She has been instrumental in accelerating our growth and will lead Aritzia in capitalizing on the incredible opportunities we see ahead."

He added that Wong's leadership style "exemplifies our values, and deeply resonates with and inspires our people."

Hill, who is in his late 50s, said that he remains as dedicated to Aritzia as he did when he founded the venture in 1984, with a first store in Oakridge Centre, and then a second one in Metropolis at Metrotown.

His fashion retailer has increased in size to 106 stores, including some under banners such as TNA, Babaton and Wilfred. The company said today that it plans to open eight to 10 boutiques this year including two stores that it called Forum Shops, which are already open in Las Vegas and at Miami's Aventura Mall. 

"Those are really intelligent locations," Patterson said. "Aventura Mall is one of the top shopping centers in the U.S. It's known for its retail mix, including a substantial roster of luxury brands. There's a Louis Vuitton flagship store in there."

Business is booming at Aritzia

Aritzia today also released fourth-quarter and fiscal 2022 financial data, for the period that ended February 27.

The company's fourth-quarter net revenue increased by 66.1 per cent, compared to the same quarter a year ago, to $444.3 million. Analysts had expected the company to generate about $135.4 million in net revenue.

Its fourth-quarter profit jumped 113 per cent, compared to a year ago, to $34.2 million.

For the full fiscal year, Aritzia generated $1.495 billion in sales, which was up 74.3 per cent from $857.3 milllion in its 2021 fiscal year, the company said. Aritzia's fiscal 2022 profit was up by more than eight times: to $156.9 million from $19.2 million. While the year-over-year comparisons are impressive, the fiscal year that ended February 28, 2021 included the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when stores were closed.

Business in the U.S. is growing faster than that in Canada.

Aritzia generated $818.5 million of its 2022 net revenue in Canada, or about 54.8 per cent, while $676.14 million in net revenue came from the U.S.

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