Harris resigns West Marine CEO post

WATSONVILLE, Calif. – After three years at the helm of West Marine, Inc. (Nasdaq: WMAR), Peter Harris resigned his post as president and CEO of the nation’s largest boating supplies and accessories retailer yesterday.

In a release distributed last night, West Marine announced that it has named Geoff Eisenber, 55, as Harris’ successor, effective as of yesterday’s date. Harris has agreed to assist with the transition through the end of the year.

This news might not come as a complete surprise to those watching the company’s performance during Harris’ tenure. While several initiatives have been moved forward, its financial results have been disappointing and there have been multiple rounds of store closures. Despite an 81-percent increase in West Marine’s net income during the third quarter ended Sept. 29 to $5.3 million, for example, the company lowered its full-year guidance for a second time and its profitability “continues to lag,” one analyst commented.

“It has been a tough period for our entire industry,” said West Marine Board Chairman and company founder Randy Repass. “The difficult management decisions Peter had to make along the way have produced encouraging progress on a number of important fronts and set the stage for further operational improvements in the period ahead. We wish Peter well in his future endeavors.”

In addition to his 30 years on the Board of West Marine, Eisenberg served the company in various senior executive positions from 1976 until 1994. He has been active with the company in one senior capacity or another right through his current appointment as President and CEO, and according to Repass, he played a key role in developing West Marine’s mission and values, and shares “our passion for the business” and its customers.

“Geoff is a highly disciplined operational strategist and a gifted leader,” Repass added. “He has had a hand in shaping our service-driven culture and in formulating our current growth strategy, as both an executive of the company and a member of our Board. We are highly confident in his ability to lead the company and drive the next phase of our growth.”

Most recently, Eisenberg ran The Eisenberg Company, a highly successful management and strategic consulting business specializing in CEO training and professional management development, according to the release. Eisenberg is also a past CEO of Salz Leathers Inc., a manufacturer of high quality leather based in Santa Cruz, CA, and is a past CEO of Greenhorn Creek Associates, a Real Estate and Golf Development company based in Angels Camp, CA.

“It is an honor to lead West Marine,” Eisenberg said. “I have a long and cherished history with this great company and look forward to strengthening our connection with boaters. I’m truly excited to get back into active engagement inside the marine industry.

“Working with suppliers and industry leaders was always one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. I hope to facilitate and enhance West Marine’s ability to partner with suppliers in mutually supportive ways. It will be rewarding for all parties if we can work together to create worthwhile new products and services that provide great benefits to our customers.”

Web cast and conference call today

West Marine will host a brief conference call and Web cast today at 11:30 a.m Eastern Standard Time to introduce Eisenberg. The live call will be Web cast and available in real time on the Internet at www.westmarine.com on the “Investor Relations” page.

Interested parties can also connect to the conference call by dialing 888/756-1546 in the U.S. and Canada and 706/634-1083 for international callers. Please be prepared to give the conference ID number 27878577. The call leader will be West Marine Chairman and Founder Randy Repass. Please allow sufficient time prior to the call to visit the site and download the streaming media software required to listen to the Internet broadcast.

An audio replay will be available for approximately one week following the call. The replay number is 800/642-1687 in the U.S. and Canada and 706/645-9291 for international callers. The access code is 27878577.

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