Lacoste exec Birkhold named Bebe CEO

BRISBANE, Calif. — Steve Birkhold was named CEO at Bebe on the same day that the company reported a worse than expected second quarter loss and a 10.5% comp decline.

Birkhold, who previously served as president and CEO at Lacoste, will be tasked with leading a turnaround at the struggling specialty retailer.

Birkhold, who replaces founder Manny Mashouf, headed Lacoste’s North American business, and helped build upon a globally recognized brand, elevating its fashion offering, while guiding the business to increased revenues and profitability. The appointment comes three months after Bebe's board said it had started a search for a new CEO.

“I am extremely pleased about the exciting new phase that Bebe is entering with the appointment of Steve Birkhold as CEO,” said Mashouf. “Steve is an accomplished industry leader who has grown iconic brands, guided businesses in new strategic directions, and built strong management teams. Most importantly, he shares our passion for the Bebe brand. We are eager to continue our journey toward becoming a global, omni-channel company. Steve will help us develop and execute strategies to reach that goal by growing our brand, expanding our distribution channels, and evolving our customer experience.”

Prior to his tenure at Lacoste North America, Birkhold was CEO of Diesel USA, where he helped grow the top-line and strengthen the organization’s infrastructure. Earlier, he held several key executive positions at VF Corporation, including GM of Nautica Jeans, president of Earl Jeans, and GM of Lee Jeans. He began his career at May Company, where he eventually had responsibility for women’s denim and menswear.

“It is an extraordinary honor to join Manny and the Bebe team in taking the brand to its next level of growth. I look forward to positioning Bebe for the dynamic changes taking place in our industry—and for the tremendous opportunities that lie ahead for the company. I view my role as helping to keep the brand true to its heritage of style and sensuality, keeping relevant to both existing and potential new consumers, while building a world class, omni-channel retail strategy that seamlessly integrates in-store, on-line, mobile and social media experiences,” said Birkhold.