• Clint Engel

Rent-A-Center CEO resigns

Founder Speese steps into the CEO post on an interim basis

PLANO, Texas — Rent-A-Center CEO Robert Davis has resigned, and founder and Chairman Mark Speese has returned to the post on an interim basis, as the rent-to-own giant works to recover from earnings and sales misses.

Speese is stepping in until a permanent replacement is named following a search by the board, the company said.

In October, Rent-A-Center posted third quarter earnings per share of 11 cents, after special items, down from 47 cents for the same period a year ago. Same-store sales at its core operations were down 12% and same-store sales for its Acceptance Now finance kiosk business in third party stores was down 0.9%. The company attributed the weakness to capacity-related system outages following the implementation of new store operating system software.

The company's stock is off more than 30% from its 52-week high and more than 18% from the price a year ago.

In the release announcing the management change, Speese thanked Davis for his efforts as CEO for the past three years and said, “His leadership has been essential to our operations and business, and we are grateful for his commitment to the company over the past 23 years.”

Davis said he was proud of what the company’s team accomplished “during a dynamic and challenging environment.”

“Rent-A-Center has the most engaged workforce in the business, and I have no doubt that they will be able to focus on driving profitable growth while providing a superior customer experience to both the retailer and the consumer. I believe the company is well positioned for the future,” he said.

Speese has been chairman since October 2001 and a director since 1990. He was Rent-A-Center’s CEO from October 2001 until January 2014. Before that, he served as vice chairman from September 1999 until March 2001 and president from 1990 until April 1999. Speese also was chief operating officer from November 1994 until March 1999.

“As a founder of Rent-A-Center, Mr. Speese brings a tremendous knowledge of the business and a strategic vision for the company,” the RTO company said.

Plano, Texas-based Rent-A-Center owns and operates about 2,600 stores in the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico, and about 1,870 Acceptance Now locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Its franchising subsidiary is a national franchiser of about 230 RTO stores operating as Rent-A-Center, ColorTyme and RimTyme.

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

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