Recently acquired West Marine Inc. said chief executive Matt Hyde, who led the company for five years, will leave.
Chief financial officer Jeff Lasher will take over as interim CEO until the company finds a replacement, spokeswoman Margo Donohue told Trade Only Today.
Hyde transformed the company from a recognized boat parts retailer to a broader “waterlife outfitter” for retail and professional customers, the company said in a statement issued Monday evening.
West Marine was publicly traded prior to its September sale to private equity firm Monomoy Capital Partners for $328 million, or $12.97 a share.
Last month Hyde told Trade Only Today that West Marine would continue to focus on its core boat business as the company moves forward.
“The core boat business, this is nearly 80 percent of our business,” Hyde said Sept. 29. “We’ve always said, through all of the changes we’ve made, that core comes first. It’s been a huge initiative over the last few years to do a better job serving that market.”
He also suggested that customers would see changes ahead.
“If you’re not changing in retail, you’re done,” Hyde said. “We will continue to push ahead with a whole bunch of improvements in the organization that customers will see, for sure.”
Hyde had been executive vice president at REI before joining West Marine as CEO in May 2012.
Under Hyde’s direction, West Marine closed a number of brick-and-mortar shops while opening and expanding the remaining stores into what it called its Waterlife stores. The intent was to create an “experience” for boaters, as well as younger water enthusiasts who might not be ready for boat ownership.
“We have gone through and made some pretty dramatic changes with the number of our stores that we call Waterlife stores,” Hyde said. “We have 63 today and plan to do work on about 12 more this year. Those stores are really redefining what a marine chandlery is, if you will. They’re designed to be more of a retailer that speaks to that customer’s life on the water, and getting a sense of experience and excitement when you walk into a store matters to the customer a lot, specifically those target customers.”
The company also brought in several new products that would have been outside the chain’s traditional offerings, including apparel, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and swimwear as part of its effort to reach “waterlife enthusiasts,” Hyde told Trade Only in May 2016.
Last year the company rebranded its wholesale Port Supply business to West Marine Pro and increased its emphasis on e-commerce.