You don't need to lift yourself out of your leather massage chair, turn off your robotic vacuum cleaner, or toss out your ionic air purifier just because the face at the helm of Sharper Image
Founder CEO Richard Thalheimer is stepping down after leading the company over the past 29 years, and Jerry Levin will be taking over for now. In the past, Levin has served as CEO at Revlon, American Household (formerly Sunbeam), and Coleman. In an ideal world, he would be able to turn this company around within the year before handing it off to someone else, but even Levin's mastery of branded consumer products is going to be put to the ultimate test with Sharper Image.
Earlier this month, Ryan Fuhrmann took a closer look at the company's recent fiscal shortcomings. How can a retailer post a 28% slide in comps? That's insane even if you consider its retreat back in March, when the company announced that it was trimming back its ad budget, mail-order catalog circulation, and head count. At the time, Thalheimer also agreed to have his own salary slashed in half.
That may have been a noble gesture, but it was indicative of a bigger problem to come at the luxury-trinket retailer. Rival Brookstone, meanwhile, accepted a buyout offer last year -- is the niche doomed?
I don't think so. For starters, consumer-electronics superstores such as CircuitCity
You can't even blame the economy. High-end retailers with an online bent, including Blue Nile
This all makes Sharper Image a prime candidate for a little new blood to shake things up, despite Thalheimer's storied legacy. I'm guessing that the brand's positioning and the retail mix will be completely different by this time next year. Thankfully, the company is in a debt-free position, so Levin has room to take a few chances here.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz applauds a CEO willing to slash his salary during bad times, as long as the stock option grants follow suit. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.