By Erin Cabrey
Howard Meitiner has quite the retail résumé.
One highlight: He was previously president and CEO of Sephora Americas and Asia Pacific, introducing the beauty retailer to the US and Japan and debuting Sephora.com during his tenure in the late ’90s. Below, he shares more about his current role advising retail companies, and his thoughts on Sephora’s partnership with Kohl’s.
How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in retail?
When companies are in trouble, management, lenders, owners, and boards often seek out help from turnaround specialists to provide an objective assessment of current performance and strategic plans. I draw on my experience to provide a candid review of the business based on facts, experience, and interaction with the client.
One thing we can’t guess about your job from your LinkedIn profile:
I love complex and dysfunctional problems where I can use my experience as a leader to bring focus and clarity to solving challenges. It is very rewarding when everyone gets behind a new action plan.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Bar Louie. It was an entirely new experience with familiar problems, a great brand, good people, and a positive outcome. Plus, I discovered some of their great cocktails!
Which emerging retail trend are you most excited about this year, and why?
I like the trend toward strategic partnerships and the move away from running businesses in an isolated manner. This trend is accelerating and can add great value to both partners. Kohl’s/Sephora, Target/Ulta…Richemont/Farfetch, Target/ThredUp, Toys R Us/Macy’s…The list is endless and growing daily. I believe passionately that 1 + 1 = 3 if thoroughly researched. Companies are invited to expand their imaginations.
What’s your go-to coffee order?
Decaf hot coffee with half and half. Boring.
Worst piece of advice you’ve received?
“Don’t say anything until you have to.” My advice: Be respectfully courageous, opinionated, and transparent. It works.
What was your favorite retail product when you were 15, and what’s your favorite retail product now?
Vinyl records (my first album was [the Jeff Beck Group’s] Beck-Ola). Loved music, still do. Untuckit—great not having to tuck in my shirt.