Gordon Segal, the visionary founder of Crate & Barrel, is relinquishing the CEO post, marking the first time the 46-year-old home furnishing chain will operate without Segal's daily presence.
Segal is handing off his chief executive title to Barbara Turf, Crate & Barrel's longtime president, who assumes the post May 1.
The change is expected to test Crate & Barrel's mettle at a time when the housing market downturn is putting pressure on home goods retailers industrywide.
Segal, 69, will remain chairman and keep an office at the company's Northbrook headquarters. He plans to serve as a retail ambassador, giving speeches, recruiting at colleges and going abroad to explore opportunities to expand. The chain has annual sales of more than $1.4 billion and 160 stores nationwide but, so far, none outside the U.S. (A store in Toronto is slated to open in September.)