March 26, 2012, 12:24 PM

REI names an Urban Outfitters exec as its new finance chief

Retail industry veteran Eric Artz will arrive in May to help REI expand.

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In a move aimed at supporting expected growth, Recreational Equipment Inc., the multichannel retailer of outdoor sports gear and apparel, has picked Urban Outfitters Inc. finance chief Eric Artz to be its new chief financial officer.

Artz will join REI in May and replace Ivar Chhina, who left REI in July for personal reasons. The decision to hire Artz follows REI’s February appointment of a new marketing chief.

At Urban Outfitters, Frank Conforti takes over as chief financial officer, promoted from the position of chief accounting officer. The change in the retailer’s top ranks comes after the February move by chairman Richard Hayne to fill the CEO spot, as former CEO Glen Senk left to head up retailer David Yurman Inc. Urban Outfitters is No. 48 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide; REI is No. 62.

At REI, Artz brings broad experience in retail operations that will help the retailer grow, president and CEO Sally Jewell says. “In addition to his financial expertise, Eric has a deep understanding of multichannel retail, plus operations experience in supply chain, product development, sourcing and international,” she says. “These skills, combined with his industry experience and passion for the outdoors, make him an exceptional addition to our team."

Jewell says Artz brings to REI strong experience with growth companies, adding, “His understanding of the systems, processes and financial management needed for thoughtful expansion will be invaluable to REI as we grow to meet the needs of our existing and future members and customers."

Artz will officially step down as finance chief on April 2 at Urban Outfitters, a company he joined in early 2010. Urban Outfitters operates the retail brands Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and BHLDN. Prior to Urban Outfitters, Artz spent 17 years at VF Corp., where his roles included chief financial officer and other executive positions with oversight over corporate, divisional and international operations. His experience at VF covered VF Contemporary Brands, which includes 7 For All Mankind, Spendid and Ella Moss; and VF Outdoor, which includes The North Face, JanSport and Eagle Creek.

Conforti has been with Urban Outfitters since March 2007, when he joined the company as director of finance and Securities and Exchange Commission reporting. He was subsequently promoted to controller and then to his current position as chief accounting officer. “Frank has been a star and an invaluable partner,” says Urban Outfitters chairman and CEO Richard Hayne.

Prior to Urban Outfitters, Conforti was a controller at AlliedBarton Security Services. He also worked for accounting and consulting firm KPMG.

Timothy Peterson, chief marketing officer and co-founder of LocFree.com, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Chicago in a session entitled “Attracting and retaining talent in a competitive market.”

The IRCE $200 early-bird discount expires Mar. 31.

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