John Reed new CEO of Hilo Hattie
The retailer plans to open flagship in Waikiki
John Reed, previously an executive at DFS Group Ltd. and most recently the chief executive of California-based BriteSmile Inc., stepped in as chief executive officer of Hilo Hattie yesterday.
The change in leadership comes as the company is planning a shift in operations from Nimitz Highway to a new flagship store under construction at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center in Waikiki.
"He'll have new strategies," said Jim Romig, chairman and founder of Pomare Inc., the parent company of Hilo Hattie. "John brings to Hilo Hattie a proven retail track record, along with a vast experience in the Hawaii travel industry market."
Reed, in his mid-60s, had a 20-year career at DFS Group, where he was president of the Hawaii division and chairman of the Japan division. He also served as chairman of the state Hawaii Tourism Authority from 1998 to 1999.
In 1999 he co-founded BriteSmile, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based provider of teeth-whitening systems. He was CEO of BriteSmile from June 1999 to April 2004, and earned in excess of $230,000 in 2003, according to a Securities & Exchange Commission filing.
Early last year, Reed briefly was Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann's appointee for city managing director. But he withdrew his nomination after the disclosure of a 2003 lawsuit alleging that he made racially derogatory remarks to BriteSmile employees in California.
Reed denied the allegations, and told the Star-Bulletin at the time that he settled the lawsuit only to avoid a costly court case.
He returned to BriteSmile as CEO in May, according to the Contra Costa Times, to help rescue the company from troubles that included potential delisting from the Nasdaq stock exchange due to failure to file a financial report on time. The company, which is still listed on the Nasdaq, has reported revenues of $7.8 million in the second quarter of this year.
Among Reed's new responsibilities will be to oversee the expansion of Hilo Hattie's new Kona Coffee Visitor Center store on the Big Island, and the move of the Nimitz store to the Royal Hawaiian center.
Reed replaces Paul de Ville, who has been in the post since 2001. De Ville will leave Hilo Hattie on Nov. 15 to pursue real estate investments.
De Ville said chief among his accomplishments was negotiating the new store's lease with the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, which is in the midst of an $84 million renovation.
DeVille took the top post at Hilo Hattie after about serving five and a half years as president and CEO of Persis Corp. and Asa Properties, the Twigg-Smith's family real estate business.
"I really enjoyed my business relationship with Paul, and I think he did a great job for Hilo Hattie," said Robert Taylor, president of Maui Divers Jewelry. "We also worked with John Reed when he was at DFS, and DFS is another of our strong partners."
Hilo Hattie, founded in 1963 on Kauai, manufactures aloha wear, and sells gifts, souvenirs, T-shirts and home furnishings, bringing in annual revenue of more than $30 million. It also provides logo uniforms for Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii's athletic department.
It operates seven stores on all four major islands of Hawaii, and four mainland stores -- two in California, one in Orlando, Fla., and one in Las Vegas.
Its two-story flagship store at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is expected to open in March 2008.