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  • Ken Lubin

Episode 28: Former CEO- rue 21 Michael Appel









Michael was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of rue21, a leading fast fashion retailer, in November 2018. He had been Chairman of the Board. The Board of Directors of rue21 asked him to re-assume the senior leadership of the Company and assume the additional title of Chief Executive Officer on a permanent basis in November 2018. He had served as Interim Chief Executive Officer from October 2017-June 2018. The Board’s decision was based on progress made under Mr. Appel’s interim leadership.


rue 21declared bankruptcy in May 2017 and emerged from bankruptcy in September 2017.

Mr. Appel has led a successful turnaround of rue21 through a focused program of five key initiatives. These include understanding the customer, upgrading the management team, fixing the product, using state-of the art technology including data analytics and maintaining a liquidity position. With Michael Appel at the helm, rue21 has the team and strategy that is significantly contributing to its current vitality and on-going success.


What we discussed


  • State of the current retail market and challenges for retailers over the next 12-18 month

  • Follow up: Major turnaround “opportunities” and what are the issues that caused those businesses to go to Chapter 11 or liquidation Include: Neiman’s; JC Penney; Pier 1; J Crew; NY & Co (anticipated)

  • Views on the current and future of Ecommerce and the direct business

  • Review of his work at rue21

  • How should a retail leader approach a turnaround?

  • Future of retail


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Feel free to reach out at klubin@zrgpartners.com