Deckers Brands, the Goleta-based footwear company, announced Jan. 21 that David Lafitte is stepping up from his role as general counsel into the position of chief operating officer.
Lafitte’s appointment is effective Feb. 2 and he replaces Zohar Ziv, who retired from the company on Jan. 16.
The move comes as Deckers takes on a shifting consumer market powered by online sales. The omni-channel store concept the company unveiled last March, which uses touchscreens and tablets to turn its stores into a sort of Apple store for shoes, is expanding to all North American stores as well as concept stores in Japan and eventually Europe.
Thomas George, the company’s chief financial officer, said during an earnings call in November that the company will use these smaller ventures to pierce what it considers under-penetrated markets: “Locations where we either want to test to see if it is viable for a long-term lease for a store, or to just take advantage of the peak selling season.”
George said the strategy is attractive as buildout costs are low and the store’s opening can be constrained to Deckers’ core selling season. The company is planning to add another 12 stores before its fiscal year closes in March.
For Laffite, this means more distribution channels to oversee. Angel Martinez, Deckers’ president and CEO, said Lafitte has helped the company grow into a complex, globally distributed portfolio of brands, with an even more complex infrastructure.
“David has been a key member of our management team during a period of significant expansion,” Martinez said in a news release. “He is a natural leader and team player and has demonstrated an ability to navigate the many facets of our fast-growing and evolving business.”
Lafitte has served as general counsel of Deckers since January 2012 and is also a shareholder in the law firm Stradling, Yocca, Carlson & Rauth, where he is a member of the board of directors and executive committee. He specialized in corporate and securities law with an emphasis on public and private mergers and acquisitions, venture capital financing, securities offerings and technology licensing.
“I’m looking forward to expanding my role with our seasoned management team at this exciting time in the company’s history,” Lafitte said in a release. “Deckers is developing a compelling consumer-centric global business model that is supported by a diverse portfolio of brands, a culture of innovation and a commitment to fostering engaging, convenient and seamless shopping experiences for consumers. I am excited to contribute to further building on a first-class infrastructure and supporting our strategic expansion.”