Best Practice


Jan 31 2023 ...

Fashion retail trends: Demand grows for CEOs with supply chain skills

According to the Nextail Fashion CEOs Talent & Trends 2023 report, 70.3% of new CEOs bring retail operations experience, a 37.3% growth over outgoing CEOS. They also bring 17.7% more supply chain expertise than outgoing CEOs.

Get a copy of the annual Nextail “Inside the mind of a fashion CEO: 2023 Talent & Trends” report for more insights and the latest leadership recruitment trends in fashion retail.

Disruption & changing trends call for retail ops expertise

The report, which analyzed 70+ fashion CEO changes in the past year, examined the skill sets of incoming and outgoing retail executives plus comparisons from previous years to uncover how talent choices for the top role reflect current business priorities.

The findings suggest that fashion retailers are shoring up their operational talent at the top to prepare for a global slowdown. In fact, 84% of industry leaders expect market conditions to stay the same or decline in 2023, according to the BoF-McKinsey State of Fashion 2023 report.

Retailers face multiple strong headwinds. While 85% of fashion executives predict inflation will continue to challenge the market this year, they are also contending with rising energy prices (particularly in Europe due to the war in Ukraine), supply chain disruption, and a cost-of-living crisis; which are trends poised to dampen discretionary spend on categories like fashion retail.

As a result, the fashion sector is focused on hiring executives with the right operational expertise to better manage costs and navigate their businesses through these uncharted waters, with 70.3% of new CEOs bringing retail operations experience, a 37.3% growth over outgoing CEOs and a higher proportion than any of the incoming cohorts studied in past editions of the report (+48.3% on 2021, +55.8% on 2020 and +19.2% on 2019).

“Companies are starting to have that inflection of, ‘What roles and capabilities are going to drive longer-term strategy for us and also get us through some economic uncertainty’,” according to Business of Fashion.

Brands prioritize core capabilities, hiring more supply chain experts

Based on the professional profiles of CEOs appointed in 2022, retail fashion brands are beginning to prioritize investment in core capabilities, such as supply chain in 2023, in order to cut costs and improve the customer experience even in a climate of uncertainty.

And, with supply chain specialists/logisticians expected to grow by 28% from 2021-2030 and much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nextail analysis shows some brands are already on the front foot with new CEOs bringing 17.7% more supply chain expertise than outgoing CEOs.

A more progressive approach to sourcing and diversification – multi-country and multi-vendor – was also a topic in “The Big Debate – The future of retail in 2025 and role of technology” roundtable hosted by Nextail. Here, leading fashion retailers agreed a dynamic, agile, and forward-looking supply chain was critical to achieving their omnichannel objectives, making greater supply chain expertise a stronger requirement for leadership.

Business of Fashion and McKinsey agree. “Brands may also choose to see the next year as a time to team up with manufacturing partners to sharpen their supply chain strategies. This may involve nearshoring to better respond to fast-shifting consumer demand or leaning more heavily on data analytics and technology to manage inventory efficiently”.

Download your copy of the annual “Inside the mind of a fashion CEO: 2023 Talent & Trends” report from Nextail to see other leadership changes in fashion and what mean for the future of fashion retail.