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Spanx CEO steps down

7:24 AM, Feb 13, 2014   |    comments
Spanx CEO Laurie Ann Goldman (l) with Vice Chairman and Chief Merchant of Saks Fifth Avenue Ron Frasch, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
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ATLANTA -- Spanx Inc.'s chief executive officer, Laurie Ann Goldman, is leaving the shapewear empire. Might the appointment of a footwear expert as interim CEO signal an expansion into shoes?

Spanx founder Sara Blakely announced earlier this week that Goldman will leave the company. Goldman, who joined Spanx in 2002 when the hosiery company was just two years old, used the skills she picked up during 10 years with Atlanta-based The Coca-Cola Co. to help grow the company from five employees to a shapewear giant. Goldman was a licensing executive at Coke.

Goldman's unexpected departure raises questions about an eventual IPO or differing strategies between her, Blakely and the board, Fortune reports. The appointment of Gregg Ribatt as interim chief executive officer raises questions about whether Spanx is eyeing an expansion, Fortune says.

In October, Blakely told Fortune her dream is to create the world's most comfortable high-heel shoe and then retire.

Fortune notes that Ribatt's resume includes stints as EVP and COO at Bennett Footwear, CEO and president at Stuart Weitzman Holdings, and president and CEO of Collective Brands' Performance & Lifestyle Group, where he oversaw brands such as Sperry Topsider, Saucony, Stride Rite and Keds.

Women's Wear Daily reported Tuesday that Ribatt will remain in Boston, rather than move to Spanx's Atlanta headquarters. He will help the Spanx board find a new CEO.

Says WWD, "Whether that new chief will have footwear experience to help Blakely's ultimate dream come true is TBD. (The company says Ribatt's experience is merely a coincidence, and he has advised Spanx for some time.) But I think I speak for all women -- everywhere, ever -- when I say that if Blakely can do for heels what she did for tights, we will all be eternally grateful."

Fortune adds that while Blakely is no doubt a shapewear genius, her brand would never have hit icon status without CEO Goldman's focused vision.

"Goldman crafted a business model for the company based on lessons she learned during her 10-year stint at Coke: thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast. She advised her team at SPANX to focus on product quality over profit margins," Fortune said.

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* Spanx relocates HQ to Buckhead Atlanta
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(Atlanta Business Chronicle)

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