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Business Observer Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014 4 years ago

The decision: Will Mindy Grossman leave HSN? Should she?

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Future job prospects for Mindy Grossman, CEO of St. Petersburg-based online and TV retailer HSN and one of the region's few executive rock stars, is a hot topic in the national and local press.

Future job prospects for Mindy Grossman, CEO of St. Petersburg-based online and TV retailer HSN and one of the region's few executive rock stars, is a hot topic in the national and local press.

A rumor she's headed to Target, to become that firm's CEO, was sort of shot down. A report she was on her way to J.C. Penny Co., to fill that CEO slot, was officially rejected in a Wall Street Journal story July 13. The Journal says Grossman had been in advanced negotiations with the retailer.

A former Nike and Polo Jeans executive, Grossman has multiple major accomplishments in her eight years at HSN, where she's cultivated an A-list of fashion and entertainment industry connections. So it's easy to see why she's pursued for high-profile executive positions.

But there's another side to the story: Is this the best time to leave a company on the rise like HSN, with $3.4 billion in sales, for a new challenge at a larger retailer?

By one account, the answer is not really.

A recent story in trade publication Chain Store Age highlights the tenuous times for retail CEOs nationwide. The article lists nine retailers that seek a CEO — just like ESPN lists NFL teams that need a head coach after so-called Black Monday, the day after the Super Bowl when coaches are routinely fired.

Retailers looking for CEOs, according to Chain Store Age, in addition to Target and Penny's, include American Eagle Outfitters; Bebe stores; The Bon Ton Stores; Dollar General Corp.; Gordmans Stores; and L.L. Bean. There's also American Apparel, where controversial CEO Dov Charney has been in a public battle to regain control of the business.

Grossman sold 23,074 shares of HSN stock for $1.28 million in June, according to public filings, and she owns another 124,089 shares, worth close to $7 million. But she will be well compensated wherever she goes, or if she stays with HSN, so a stock sale might not have much relevance to her decision. Grossman hasn't commented on the rumors, so her future job remains speculation.

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