Village Lane Advisory
Retailing is fast paced, complex and increasingly competitive as disruptive technology further lowers the barriers to enter the global retail economy. The customer is determining when, where and how she/he wants to shop and retailers must respond by being channel agnostic. Identifying winning Go-to-Market strategies, implementing merchandise planning and distribution models for omni-channel selling, and deploying high-ROI financial and technological solutions are critical to success. These are areas in which we have a proven track record, both for growth situations as well as the restructuring of legacy retailers.
We help you identify the issues and solve them.
Fresh Perspective, Decades of Success
Informed by many years of C-suite and board level experience, we offer 360 degree strategic advice to improve financial performance and operating efficiency without sacrificing brand differentiation and growth. Our strategic advice is supported by long-term, successful operating experience, financial expertise and sensitivity to investor concerns and needs.
It's All About Results
We care about improving measurable financial results and enhancing the brand. We listen, we learn and we offer actionable plans, processes and solutions.
A talented leader with a proven turnaround record in retail, including stores, e-commerce and omni-channel, Laura quickly brings strategic vision and value in key operational areas including growth and go-to-market strategies, Finance, IT, Real Estate, Merchandising, Planning and Allocation, Marketing and Talent.
Laura brings improved operating performance and positive long-term growth, in the short term.
VILLAGE LANE ADVISORY
FOUNDER & MANAGING PARTNER
CEO | COO | CFO
Private Equity Firm
May 2015 - December 2015
Created go-to-market strategies, including competitive positioning and design, production and merchandising initiatives, for a luxury menswear company. Engaged as well in wholesale strategy, as well as full price and outlet store retailing.
Board Member, Audit Committee, Compensation Committee
2007 - Present
Member of the Audit and Compensation Committees for the largest cruise line operator in the world.
Chief Operating Officer
February 2012 - August 2014
Led strategies to improve profitability across all areas, leading to consecutive margin and EBITDA improvement. Responsibilities included Information Technology, Real Estate, Global Production and Sourcing, Merchandise Planning and Allocation, and Corporate Strategy.
Chief Executive Officer
September 2008 - August 2011
Hired as turnaround consultant, promoted to CEO to lead restructuring and sale of women's plus-size fashions to a private equity firm. Hired the team to lead transformation across design, fabrication, and sales in 200 U.S. stores and the global e-commerce site, AshleyStewart.com.
Chief Operating Officer, Senior Executive Vice-President
2005 - 2006
Revamped operational processes in IT, Global Sourcing, Real Estate and Finance to improve management visibility, instill accountability and increase profitability.
Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice-President
1995 - 2005
Led financial and strategic initiatives for market cap growth from $50M to $5.0B.
Managed growth from 280 to 900 + stores in U.S. and Canada financed with internally generated cash flow.
Led strong financial performance in profitability and inventory productivity with a nearly debt-free balance sheet.
Completed four stock splits in five years.
Partnered in the development and growth of ae.com and aerie®. Implemented accretive acquisition for AE’s expansion into Canada and development of a new retail brand.
Led investor relations of 29 sell side firms, numerous buy-side/hedge fund firms, and institutional investors.
Led IT evaluations and implementations of applications; created a web-based, unified view of the supply chain, from product development through distribution, as well as markdown optimization.
Senior Vice-President, Investment Banking
1992 - 1995
Managed Oppenheimer’s Retail and Consumer Investment Banking group. Led the IPO of American Eagle Outfitters, among other transactions.
Vice-President Finance, Chief Financial Officer - Credit Operations
1998 - 1992
Ran treasury functions and cash management, forecasting and budgeting, and rating agency relationships and handled relations with bank group and credit committee. Promoted to CFO of $3.5B credit corporation.
1988 - 1989
U.S. start-up of French phyto-based cosmetics and personal care products sponsored by Booker PLC., London, England.
Vice-President, Restructuring and Retailing Industry Groups
1979 - 1988
Held various investment banking positions and led transactions in entertainment, restructuring, mergers & acquisitions and retailing groups.
Board of Trustees
May 2007 - Present
Public Preparatory Network operates six high-quality charter schools, including universal pre-kindergarten and single-sex elementary and middle schools in the Bronx and Manhattan.
Board Member, Audit Committee
April 2003 - April 2009
Ultra Stores, based in Chicago, was the largest operator of fine jewelry stores in premium outlet centers. It was sold to Sterling Jewelers, Inc.
Participant/mentor in strategic meetings to develop NYC initiatives to support and grow the fashion/retail/e-commerce industry in New York City.
MBA Finance, Marketing
Columbia Business School
BA, Art History, Government