Will a former H&M exec lead Forever 21 into a bright new future?
Authentic Brands Group, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners rescued Forever 21. Now, the fast-fashion chain’s new owners have found a chief executive officer in the person of Daniel Kulle, a 20-year veteran of H&M.
Mr. Kulle most recently served as a strategic advisor to former H&M Group CEO Karl-Johan Persson and was part of a steering group for three digital startups within the company. He is also a former president of H&M North America, where the business grew to 600 stores across the U.S., Canada and Mexico under his leadership. Sales during that time went from $1 billion annually to $4 billion.
“Knowing Daniel personally for several years, I’ve seen his tenacious working style first-hand,” said David Simon, chairman, CEO, and president of Simon. “His strategic vision and experience will build on Forever 21’s heritage and undoubtedly usher in a new era for the brand.”
Mr. Kulle is expected to put his digital experience to work in bringing Forever 21’s brand content and social media strategies in line with modern consumers. He will focus on bringing new life to the chain’s merchandise, and work to provide a seamless shopping experience via the retailer’s site and stores.
Forever 21’s new CEO is also going to look to bring more fun and energy into shopping through pop-ups and “unexpected brand collaborations that continuously surprise and delight customers.”
Sustainability initiatives are also seen as a key pillar in Forever 21’s strategy. Like other fast-fashion retailers, the chain is increasingly faced with consumer pushback against a throwaway lifestyle.
Mr. Kulle’s former employer, H&M, has made sustainability a key tenet of its operational and brand strategy. The Swedish retailer has pledged to use 100 percent recycled or sustainable materials in its products by 2030. It also expects to be carbon neutral through two tiers of its supply chain by 2030 as it moves to its goal of being 100 percent climate positive by 2040.
In many ways, Mr. Kulle appears to be walking into an ideal situation at Forever 21. The chain has new owners (AKA landlords Simon and Brookfield) with a real stake in its success. The two mall operators and Authentic Brands have also worked successfully together in the past with the acquisition of the bankrupt Aeropostale chain in 2016.
- Daniel Kulle, Former President of H&M North America, Appointed as CEO of Forever 21 – Authentic Brands Group
- Is Forever 21 a wise investment for its new mall landlord owners? – RetailWire
- Can Forever 21 come back from bankruptcy? – RetailWire
- H&M sells supply chain transparency – RetailWire
- Why did mall landlords step in to save Aeropostale? – RetailWire
- When will sustainable fashion go mainstream? – RetailWire
- Sustainability Reporting – H&M
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is the hiring of Daniel Kulle the right move for Forever 21? What do you think are the biggest needs to be met if Forever 21 is going to be successful going forward?