Cox named CEO of the Wet Seal

The Wet Seal said Monday that it named Melanie Cox its CEO. Cox succeeds Ed Thomas who is stepping down. Cox was previously chief merchandising manager for retailers including Urban Outfitters, Contempo Casuals (which was acquired by Wet Seal) and The Clothestime. The Wet Seal is a portfolio company of Versa Capital Management LLC.


FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Wet Seal, LLC (“Wet Seal”, “the Company”), a portfolio company of Versa Capital Management, LLC (“Versa”), announced today that it has named veteran retailer and current Wet Seal board member Melanie B. Cox as Chief Executive Officer of the fast fashion retailer of apparel, footwear, and accessories for young women.


Cox succeeds Ed Thomas, who led Wet Seal through an extensive restructuring and transformation over the past year. Cox and Thomas have worked closely together since the closing earlier this spring.

“I’m glad to have been able to bring Wet Seal back to solid ground after its long period of uncertainty,” Thomas stated. “We have great people at our headquarters and throughout our stores, and solid financing that will carry this company into its next phase of development under Versa’s ownership. Now that the reorganization is behind us, I decided it’s the right time for me to step back after a grueling process and evaluate other opportunities, while being confident that Wet Seal is in Versa and Melanie’s able hands.”

Gregory L. Segall, Chairman of Wet Seal and CEO of controlling shareholder Versa Capital, stated: “We welcome Melanie Cox to the Wet Seal management team, which she has come to know while working closely with Ed and the Company over the past six months as both a board member and trusted advisor. It also represents an exciting return for Melanie, as she was part of Wet Seal’s merchandising and product development team early in her career. We have worked with Melanie for years and believe strongly in the Wet Seal brand. With all the important changes and achievements in its restructuring over this last year, we expect the business to continue its renewal and flourish under Melanie’s direction.”

Segall continued: “It has been an extraordinary time of change for young women’s apparel retailers, and we thank Ed for his leadership and contributions over the past year. He took decisive steps at critical moments for Wet Seal, and for that reason it stands today as a survivor with a bright future in a landscape littered with many other retailers that could not make the same transition.”

Cox brings to Wet Seal a proven, 25-year-plus track record of building strong retail and consumer products businesses through merchandising and operational excellence. She has a longstanding reputation for optimizing revenues and profitability through merchandising, marketing, operations and customer programs, and demonstrated these skills as part of five successful retail turnarounds.

“I’m looking forward to continuing Wet Seal’s renewal under Versa’s ownership. This is a brand I have known for decades, and where I spent some early years as a merchant and head of product development helping the business grow from a small 11 store chain in Southern California,” Cox said. “I have studied and worked with this demographic for the majority of my career, and I know this is a valuable retail brand. I am excited to collaborate with our Southern California management team, our store associates, and our customers across the country to achieve Wet Seal’s tremendous potential.”

Prior to joining Versa and Wet Seal, Cox’s executive leadership experiences in retail and apparel include her roles as chief merchandising manager for retailers Urban Outfitters, Contempo Casuals (which was acquired by Wet Seal) and The Clothestime. She led Scoop NYC and Gymboree Corp.; ran a successful consulting firm where she advised notable public company boards including numerous retailers; and served as an operations executive with private equity firms, and in other corporate executive roles.

About The Wet Seal, LLC

The Wet Seal, LLC is known as a pioneer in fast fashion apparel, footwear and accessories designed for young women of all sizes through retail stores nationwide, as well as a highly active e-commerce channel. The company currently operates 171 stores in 41 states and an online at

About Versa Capital Management, LLC

Based in Philadelphia, Versa Capital Management, LLC is a private equity investment firm with more than $1.4 billion of assets under management focused on control investments in special situations involving middle market companies where value and performance growth can be achieved through enhanced operational and financial management. Versa’s portfolio includes retailers Avenue Stores and Vestis (Bob’s Stores, Eastern Mountain Sports and Sport Chalet); restaurants such as Black Angus Steakhouses; community newspapers under Civitas Media; and manufacturers that service a variety of industries. More information can be found at