The surprise ouster of charismatic CEO Giovanni Feroce in March was the start of a larger, organizationwide shakeup at Alex and Ani LLC than company leaders have acknowledged, according to former employees.
Between Feroce’s departure and early last month, at least 40 Rhode Island-based workers were let go, three ex-Alex and Ani workers have confirmed.
Those terminations included four C-suite executives – the chief operating officer, chief strategy officer, chief technology officer and chief financial officer – of which only the CFO has been replaced.
The precise number of layoffs is difficult to pin down because Alex and Ani has declined to comment on any of them, even as the company last month touted plans to add 70 new employees to Cranston corporate headquarters, and another 180 in stores across the country, over the next six months.
Spokesman Gregg Perry did not say how many of those 70 new employees have been hired so far, but acknowledged that it was not a net total and some new hires are replacing those lost through “attrition.”
At a company with global growth aspirations like Alex and Ani, the departure of a high-profile leader is often likely to bring additional personnel changes with it, especially among the managers hired personally by the outgoing executive.
But with company founder Carolyn Rafaelian still acting as interim CEO four months after Feroce left, the level of senior-executive turnover raises questions about whether the company has the management experience needed to execute a rapid growth strategy, including entry into new markets and product lines.
And that doesn’t include a potential IPO, which Alex and Ani has reportedly been exploring for more than a year.
“I am a little surprised Carolyn has stayed in the CEO position this long,” said Mark Higgins, dean of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Business Administration. “This is unusual for it to take so long to replace a CEO. Normally, if you were going to make this kind of change, you would have had someone in mind to replace him.”