Indiana-based Vera Bradley hires longtime retail exec as new CEO

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Fort Wayne-based handbag maker Vera Bradley Inc. on  Tuesday announced that it has selected Jacqueline Ardrey as its next president and CEO.

Ardrey will succeed Robert Wallstrom, who earlier this year announced his plans to retire after leading the company since 2013.

Ardrey currently serves as president of Grandin Road, a home decor and furnishings company headquartered in West Chester, Ohio. She is also the former CEO of Victoria Trading Co. in Lenexa, Kansas.

“Jackie Ardrey is a highly accomplished retail executive who is a strategic leader, a talent builder, and an innovative thinker with a strong record of operational excellence,” Robert Hall, chairman of the Vera Bradley board of directors, said in written remarks. “We are confident Jackie will be instrumental in developing the full potential of our two lifestyle brands, Vera Bradley and Pura Vida, and delivering consistent, sustainable growth and value to our stakeholders over the long term.”

Ardrey’s career also includes stints as senior vice president of merchandising and supply chain for gourmet food and gift retailer Harry and David, as well as 14 years at children’s retailer Hanna Andersson.

“I have long admired Vera Bradley Inc. and believe both the Vera Bradley and Pura Vida brands have untapped potential in the marketplace,” Ardrey said. “I look forward to working closely with the talented leadership team and the board to build upon the company’s heritage, leverage its many opportunities, and drive long-term, profitable growth.”

Ardrey will begin her new role Nov. 1. Vera Bradley said Wallstrom will continue to work with his successor through December to ensure a smooth transition.

Vera Bradley on Aug. 31 reported a fiscal second quarter loss of $29.8 million, compared with a profit of $9.1 million during the same period of 2021. Revenue fell from from $147 million to $130.3 million.

Shares in the company closed at $3.24 each Tuesday, down from $8.59 at the beginning of the year.

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