Longtime Lids Sports Group President Kocher steps down

Zionsville-based hat retailer Lids Sports Group is seeking a new leader after the resignation of longtime President Kenneth Kocher.

Kocher, 50, stepped down after more than 10 years in the position, Lids Sports Group owner Genesco Inc. announced Tuesday. He also resigned as a senior vice president at Genesco, a position he's held almost a decade.

Genesco said Kocher would remain employed by the company in a consulting capacity for up to six months. It did not say why he was resigning.

Kocher could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Genesco CEO Robert Dennis said he will act as Lids Sports Group's president while the company searches for a successor for Kocher.

"I look forward to working closely with the senior leadership team at the Lids Sports Group during this transitional period," Dennis said in a written statement. "Ken Kocher has led this business through an exciting and dynamic phase of its development, and we thank him for his contributions and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Kocher joined the hat retailer, then known as Hat World Inc., as chief financial officer in 1997 and remained with the company after it was sold to Nashville, Tennessee-based Genesco in 2004.

He was credited with helping Lids Sports Group grow during the recession while many retailers struggled or went out of business.

The company—which operates more than 1,300 stores under its Lids, Lids Locker Room and Lids Clubhouse formats—generated operating earnings of $49 million on sales of $903 million in the fiscal year that ended in January 2015. For the year, Lids Sport Group accounted for 32 percent of sales for Genesco, which operates a broad range of retail chains.

Kocher received more than $1.2 million in compensation in 2015, including a salary of $443,500 and stock awards of $758,050.

Lids recently relocated its more than 400 local corporate employees from Park 100 to a new, $22 million headquarters in Zionsville. When Lids announced the project in 2014, the company said it planned to add more than 750 workers by 2025.

The division has shown some recent struggles. Genesco launched a turnaround effort last year after Lids posted a $3.4 million operating loss in the first quarter.

As part of that effort, Lids recently sold off its once-highly touted sports-uniform division, a move that led to the departure of one of the company's founders, Scott Molander. Molander ran that business for Lids and will continue to run it for the new owner, Memphis, Tennessee-based Varsity Brands. Varsity Brands is the owner of Herff Jones and other businesses targeting the education market.

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