February 14, 2008, 12:00 AM

Sharper Image once more changes CEOs

The retailer has named Robert Conway, a founding member of retail turnaround firm Conway, Del Genio, Gries & Co., as CEO to replace outgoing chief executive Steven Lightman, who was named to the top spot less than one year ago. The change is immediate.

In an effort to stop an ongoing slide in its financial performance, including declining web sales, Sharper Image Corp. is once again changing chief executives.

The retailer, No. 122 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has named Robert Conway, a founding member of retail turnaround firm Conway, Del Genio, Gries & Co., as CEO to replace outgoing chief executive Steven Lightman.

The change is immediate. The change in CEO is the second in less than a year for Sharper Image, which previously named Lightman as CEO in March 2007 to replace company founder and long-time top executive Richard Thalheimer. During the transition between Lightman and Thalheimer, Jerry Levin served as CEO on an interim basis.

Conway has more than 25 years of experience advising companies on financial and operational issues as a banker, consultant and senior executive officer, says Sharper Image. The retailer also has retained specialists from Conway, Del Genio, Gries & Co to assist Conway in addressing business improvements and to help implement operational changes.

The first order of business is improving Sharper Image’s declining financial performance, particularly in e-commerce. Sharper Image has yet to report its final 2007 financial results. But preliminary results show that comparable store sales decreased by 13% in 2007, while total company sales in 2007 were $374.9 million compared to $506.7 million in 2006, a drop of 26%. The company didn’t provide guidance on the change in year-over-year net income.

For the third quarter, web sales dropped by 47% to $8 million from $15 million in the prior year, the company told Wall Street analysts on a recent earnings call.

At the same time Sharper Image reported a net loss of $22.7 million on sales of $69.5 million in Q3 vs. a net loss of $22.1 million on sales of $106.2 million in Q3 of 2006.

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