The CEO saga at DTC luggage and travel accessories retailer Away continues. The company announced on Jan. 23 that current CEO Stuart Haselden would be stepping down in February to pursue “another opportunity.” Haselden will remain on the Board of Directors and lead the search for his replacement alongside co-founder and President Jen Rubio, who will take over as interim CEO in the meantime.
Haselden, formerly COO of Lululemon, took the helm of the company in December 2019 following the resignation of co-founder and then CEO Steph Korey amid allegations of a “toxic work environment.” However, just a month later Korey announced that she would in fact remain on as Co-CEO alongside Haselden and disputed the charges of workplace impropriety, which first appeared in The Verge.
“Frankly, we let some inaccurate reporting influence the timeline of a transition plan that we had,” said Korey in an interview with The New York Times. “All of us said, ‘It’s not right.’”
According to the company, Haselden already had been recruited to join Away prior to the story’s release, with the aim of eventually taking the company public. Korey stepped down again from the Co-CEO role last October. In the end, Haselden will depart Away with a potential IPO still a far point on the horizon.
The company’s explosive growth was brought to a near standstill by COVID-19, with executives announcing furloughs, layoffs and store closures in response to a 90% decline in sales in April 2020 as the pandemic hit the travel industry hard. Away has had some success pivoting to adjacent product categories suited more to foot or car travel, and the company’s 12 brick-and-mortar locations have since reopened for call and collect orders.
“Since co-founding Away in 2015, Jen has been a visionary and trusted leader, whose acumen built a brand that has transformed the travel and lifestyle sector,” said Stuart Haselden, outgoing CEO of Away in a statement. “This past year has been an important period in the company’s evolution, and no one is better positioned than Jen to continue to guide the company through this transition phase. Away is well-positioned to capitalize on the coming economic recovery and be there for when the world is ready to travel again. With vaccines on the way and confidence in travel returning, Away has a huge opportunity in the second half of 2021.”