FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — West Marine, Inc. (the “Company” or “West Marine”), the nation’s leading omni-channel provider of products, services, and expertise for the marine aftermarket, announced today that Eric Kufel has been appointed to succeed Ken Seipel as Chief Executive Officer. As part of this planned transition, Mr. Seipel will become Lead Independent Director of the West Marine Board of Directors, effective August 23.
Mr. Kufel brings West Marine over two decades of executive leadership experience and has a proven track record of delivering category-leading growth across a wide range of brands, business models, and industries. He most recently served as Executive Chairman of Leslie’s, Inc., where he partnered with the team to transform Leslie’s into the largest, most trusted omni-channel brand in the U.S. pool and spa care industry through significant investments in technology and core infrastructure. Prior to his time at Leslie’s, Mr. Kufel served as the CEO of CorePower Yoga, building the company into the largest yoga studio operator in the U.S. Mr. Kufel currently serves as a Director of Leslie’s, Inc., and Truck Hero, the leading provider of functional aftermarket accessories for pickup trucks and Jeep® vehicles.
Mr. Seipel said, “I am excited to welcome Eric as our new CEO. His depth of experience in consumer-driven businesses and proven ability to accelerate growth, particularly through digital, supply chain, and marketing advancements within multi-channel retail organizations, make him well-suited to lead West Marine into its next chapter of growth. I am incredibly proud of what our team has accomplished to date, and I look forward to transitioning the CEO responsibilities to Eric and advising and supporting the rapid growth plans for West Marine in my new role as Lead Director.”
“I am thrilled to join West Marine at this exciting time in the Company’s evolution,” said Mr. Kufel. “West Marine is uniquely positioned to build upon its category leading position to become the leading tech-enabled platform for boating enthusiasts, providing unmatched product breadth, best-in-class value, expert knowledge, and superior convenience and service. Ken and the team have done a remarkable job refocusing the company on outfitting, educating, and inspiring all boaters and laying the foundation for a reimagined omni-channel consumer experience. As we look to the future, I couldn’t be more energized to lead the Company as we work together to capitalize on these opportunities.”
Marc Magliacano, a Managing Partner of L Catterton’s Flagship Fund and a West Marine Director, commented, “We have known and worked with Eric for many years and he is a highly-respected strategic leader who brings significant multi-channel and multi-site expertise. His leadership will enable West Marine to strengthen its position at the forefront of the aftermarket marine products and services category. We thank Ken for building a solid business foundation and helping position West Marine as the category leader it is today, and we are grateful that the Board and management team will continue to benefit from his knowledge and experience in his new role on the board.”
About Eric Kufel
Mr. Kufel most recently served as the Executive Chairman of Leslie’s, the world’s largest retailer and online marketer of swimming pool and spa supplies and services. Prior to that, Mr. Kufel served as CEO of CorePower Yoga, the largest yoga studio operator in the U.S., from 2016 to 2020. From 2009 to 2014, Mr. Kufel served as the CEO of Van’s Foods, until Hillshire Farms acquired the company. From 1997 to 2008, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Inventure Foods Inc. following its IPO in 1996. Mr. Kufel began his career in various Brand Management positions at Kellogg’s, The Coca-Cola Company, and Henkel. Mr. Kufel has a B.A. from Gonzaga University and an M.B.A. from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
About West Marine
Founded in 1968, West Marine is the leading integrated, omni-channel provider of aftermarket products and services to the boating, fishing, sailing, and watersports markets in the U.S. With 237 physical locations across 38 states and Puerto Rico and two eCommerce platforms reaching consumers and professional customers, West Marine is recognized as the leading resource for cruisers, sailors, anglers, and watersports enthusiasts. West Marine uses its scale, product breadth, and expert field associates to service all the needs of consumers seeking an exceptional on water experience.
About L Catterton
With approximately $30 billion of equity capital across its fund strategies and 17 offices around the world, L Catterton is the largest global consumer-focused private equity firm. L Catterton’s team of nearly 200 investment and operating professionals partners with management teams around the world to implement strategic plans to foster growth, leveraging deep category insight, operational excellence, and a broad partnership network. Since 1989, the firm has made over 250 investments in leading consumer brands. For more information about L Catterton, please visit lcatterton.com.