Guess? What

Brian Fleming departs the apparel maker. Plus other finance-department comings and goings.

Following in the footsteps of the former CFOs of Nordstrom Inc., Old Navy, and Williams-Sonoma Inc., Brian Fleming, CFO of Los Angeles-based apparel maker Guess? Inc., has found that the retail industry is not quite his style.

Fleming’s departure came a day after the company officially hired its first COO, former Footstar Inc. CFO Carlos Alberini, and one week after it announced a major earnings disappointment and credit problems. Citing slow sales and an overstocked inventory, the company reported that its earnings would come in at a third of what it had projected, and that it would likely be in violation of a loan covenant with Chase Manhattan Corp. by the end of the fourth quarter. About 80 percent of Guess shares are held by the Marciano brothers, Maurice and Paul, co-chairmen and co-CEOs, and by Armand Marciano, EVP, according to the company’s April 2000 proxy.

Guess declined to answer questions about Fleming, but analysts say he likely left of his own volition before the new COO began making changes.

“In addition to operating experience, [Alberini] brings a tremendous amount of financial experience,” says John Rouleau, a senior analyst at Gruntal & Co., in Chicago. “They’re going to need to refill the CFO slot, but I don’t know if it needs to be [filled] instantly. [Hiring Alberini] buys them some time.”

Meanwhile, the company says it has a plan to reduce inventory and recover cash flow, and expects to reach a resolution on the loan-covenant violation. There was no comment on when it expects to hire a new CFO or what Fleming plans to do next.

Rub-a-Dub-Dub

Forget having just one Maytag man — how about three? Maytag Corp. recently filled three top positions with the appointments of Steven Wood to EVP and CFO, Steven Klyn to VP and treasurer, and Ernest Park to SVP and CIO. Both Wood and Klyn are veteran Maytagers, while Park joins the Newton, Iowa-based home appliance firm from Honeywell International.

Indra Nooyi has accepted the Pepsi Challenge. Nooyi, who was named president of PepsiCo Inc. and retains her CFO title, was a major proponent of the recently announced $13.8 billion acquisition of Quaker Oats Co. The deal came on the heels of PepsiCo’s purchase of Tropicana Products Inc. Nooyi becomes second in command to chairman and CEO- designate Steven Reinemund.

Ted French, who previously served as CFO of heavy-equipment company CNH Global NV, has become the hub of Textron Inc., headquartered in Providence. French succeeds Stephen Key as CFO. Key has retired from the aircraft and helicopter maker.

Reigned In

Kirk B. Michael is getting the royal treatment from Duke Energy Corp., headquartered in Houston. The former VP of planning and finance for Duke’s Energy Services division was named VP and CFO, finance and planning, for the same unit at the multinational energy company. It is a newly created position.

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