Vera Bradley, Inc. (Nasdaq: VRA) (the “Company”) today announced that Jacqueline Ardrey will join the Company as President and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) effective November 1, 2022, replacing retiring President and CEO Robert Wallstrom. Wallstrom will work closely with Ardrey through December 2022 to ensure a smooth transition. Ardrey will also join the Company’s Board of Directors on November 1, 2022.
Ardrey is an accomplished, results-oriented leader with over 25 years of experience in multi-channel retail enterprises. Since 2018, she has held the post of President at home furnishings and seasonal décor catalog retailer Grandin Road, part of the Qurate Retail Group. Previously, Ardrey was CEO of Trading Company Holdings and Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Supply Chain for iconic omnichannel gourmet food and gifting brand Harry and David. Prior to that, she spent 14 years at multi-channel high-end children’s retailer Hanna Andersson in various roles of increasing responsibility, including Senior Vice President of Merchandising, Design, and Wholesale. Ardrey began her retail career with the May Company.
Robert Hall, Chairman of the Vera Bradley, Inc. Board of Directors, noted, “Jackie Ardrey is a highly accomplished retail executive who is a strategic leader, a talent builder, and an innovative thinker with a strong record of operational excellence. On behalf of the entire Board, I am thrilled to welcome her to the Company. We are confident Jackie will be instrumental in developing the full potential of our two lifestyle brands, Vera Bradley and Pura Vida, and delivering consistent, sustainable growth and value to our stakeholders over the long term.”
“I have long admired Vera Bradley, Inc. and believe both the Vera Bradley and Pura Vida brands have untapped potential in the marketplace,” Ardrey commented. “I look forward to working closely with the talented leadership team and the Board to build upon the Company’s heritage, leverage its many opportunities, and drive long-term, profitable growth.”
Hall continued, “On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Rob Wallstrom for his leadership, creativity, vision, and tireless work to evolve the Company and position it for growth. I am proud to have partnered with Rob over the last nine years, and we are grateful for his principled and collaborative leadership.”
Wallstrom has led Vera Bradley, Inc. as President and Chief Executive Officer since 2013, executing the Company’s business transformation while also championing corporate social responsibility; associate engagement; diversity, equity and inclusion; and philanthropy initiatives. Wallstrom oversaw the expansion of the Company’s portfolio in 2019 with the acquisition of lifestyle brand Pura Vida, which achieved B Corp Certification in 2022. Under Wallstrom’s leadership, in 2022, Vera Bradley, Inc. was named America’s #1 Best Midsize Employer and #11 Best Employer for Diversity by Forbes and Statista.
“It has been my great honor to serve as President and CEO of the Company over the last nine years, and it has been an incredible privilege to work with our highly talented, creative, and dedicated team of associates,” noted Wallstrom. “We have driven innovation across both of our brands, built strong engagement with our associates and customers, and enhanced our purpose-driven mission. I am excited about the future of Vera Bradley, Inc. and confident the Company will thrive under Jackie’s leadership.”
Wallstrom has submitted his resignation from the Company’s Board of Directors effective November 1, 2022, in conjunction with Ardrey joining the Company and her election to the Board of Directors effective that same date.