Teen and pre-teen retailer Five Below landed two senior executives from Walmart.com and Ascena Retail Group for key roles as it looks to accelerate an already rapid pace of growth.
Walmart.com president and CEO Joel Anderson will join Five Below as president in July to oversee all aspects of merchandising, stores and marketing. Eric Specter, most recently EVP and chief integration officer for Ascena, will serve as Five Below’s chief administrative officer and oversee supply chain, information technology and real estate.
Both men will report to Five Below co-founder and CEO Tom Vellios and bring to the company expertise it needs to manage growth and pursue new opportunities. For example, Five Below currently doesn’t sell products online which is clearly an area Anderson knows well from his tenure at Walmart.com. Likewise, Five Below sells very little apparel which is an area of expertise that veteran retailer Specter brings to the company.
“We have been actively engaged in a search for the right candidate to fill the role of president and we are incredibly excited to have someone with Joel's talent and extensive experience joining the Five Below team," said Vellios said. "With Joel, we have a proven multi-channel retail leader with an exceptionally strong background across both stores and e-commerce, and the right leadership skills and merchandising vision to help fuel the growth of the Five Below brand." Regarding the addition of Specter, Vellios said, “Eric's broad based skill set and deep operating experience will help ensure the smooth execution of our long-term growth strategy.”
To date, that growth strategy consisted of rapidly expanding its store base. Five below opened 60 stores last year to end the year with 304 locations and plans to open 62 stores this year. The typical store is about 7,500-sq.-ft. and offers 4,000 items. The addition of Anderson and Specter round out the company’s senior leadership team and position Five Below for its next chapter of growth, according to Vellios.
As for Anderson’s decision to leave a high profile role as head of Walmart.com, he said, "I see an enormous opportunity ahead to build on the company’s solid foundation as we expand the reach of the Five Below brand and continue to elevate how we market, merchandise and connect with our customers. This will strengthen our relationship with our existing customers while drawing new ones to the Five Below experience.”
Anderson spent three years as president and CEO of Walmart.com and prior to that spent four years in senior operations roles at the company. Before joining Walmart, Anderson was responsible for all aspects of the retail and direct business units at Lenox Group. He also spent 12 years at Toys "R" Us, Inc. in various roles and activities including marketing, online, new ventures and operations.
Specter is a veteran retailer with an extensive apparel background who most recently oversaw the planning and integration of Charming Shoppes into Ascena. He also directed the strategic positioning, direction and leadership of Catherines, a women's apparel brand with approximately 400 stores. Previously, he served in various leadership capacities with Charming Shoppes, including CFO, and during his tenure helped the company grow to 2,000 stores from 300 stores.
"Five Below is at an exciting inflection point in the evolution of the business and brand," said Specter said. "Known for its unique value proposition and differentiated shopping environment, I see tremendous opportunities to grow and extend the influence of the Five Below brand while continuing to deliver customers with the trend-right, high-quality products they have come to expect.”