The Sept. 6 issue of Fortune magazine touts its list of the 100 fastest growing companies. In a story called “Lessons from the Fast Lane” (page 146), it quotes an analyst saying that growth is the number-one issue on CEOs’ minds right now. And saying that’s why it’s “critical we learn from those that get it right,” the story offers profiles of six companies from the list of fastest growing, including Chico’s, the clothing retailer. The Chico’s profile (page 152) outlines a program the company calls “bridge to a billion.” A very successful frequent-shopper progam resulted in the company’s DOS-based register system reaching critical mass and crashing in about 200 stores nationwide in 1999. CEO Scott Edmonds told Fortune, “We didn’t see it coming. So we said, What else is going to break if we’re going to take this business from $300 million to a billion?” Well, what else? Pretty much everything IT, including, perhaps, the CIO’s back. More specifically, according to Fortune, the revamped program has included a new, Windows-based point-of-sale system in each store and other IT upgrades, a state-of-the-art distribution center and an expanded management team. And a rapid pace. In 2002, Chico’s moved its distribution center from its home base in Florida to a huge and highly automated facility in Georgia, and last September the company flipped the switch on its new IT platforms. And as for the CIO’s back….
It’s not mentioned in the Fortune story, but if you follow CIO.com’s Movers & Shakers section, you may remember we reported earlier in the summer that Chico’s CIO (who had been with the company since 2001) was “no longer employed by the women’s clothing retailer.” The company’s current online listing of officers includes no IT personnel. (Subscription needed to access Fortune stories online.)