A change at the top for America’s most venerable dishware maker: Lenox has a new CEO. In a statement released this afternoon, the company announced that former CEO Mads Ryder would be stepping down, to be replaced by consumer goods executive Bob Burbank. Ryder, who is returning to his native Denmark, will retain a seat on Lenox’s board.
Burbank is a veteran executive who has spent most of his career in the arena of athletic equipment, with stints at snowboarding brand Burton, bicycle maker Cannondale, and protective equipment manufacturer G-Force. To join Lenox, he leaves a position at SureFit, a maker of furniture slipcovers.
“I am excited to be joining the Lenox team as CEO,” said Burbank in a statement. “Its long history of delivering best-in-class products and commitment to design innovation are critical to its past and future success.”
Burbank joins Lenox after a turbulent year for the 130-year-old company. In April 2020, it permanently closed its Kinston, North Carolina, factory, effectively ending its U.S. production operation. Then, in July, Lenox announced that it was closing its outlet and warehouse stores. Finally, in October, the company was acquired by private equity firm Centre Lane Partners.
Following the acquisition, Ryder told Business of Home that many of the closures, though instigated by COVID-19, were necessary steps to ensure Lenox’s future. He indicated that the company would focus on targeting younger consumers and continue to streamline its ability to participate in e-commerce marketplaces (including both those operated by department stores and digital giants like Amazon and Wayfair)—a departure from a longtime reliance on brick-and-mortar sales.
“Unfortunately—or fortunately, you could say, depending on which angle you are looking at—[the pandemic] forced us to take a lot of steps to reduce our company,” he said. “We got into firefighting mode. And in that firefighting mode, we found a plan and a strategy that we actually were able to sell the company on. [It was] a much better platform than pre-COVID—I would actually say that COVID accelerated a lot of the initiatives that we would have [had] to take.”
Ryder, who joined Lenox in 2018 with a plan to modernize the company and appeal to younger consumers, made one last big move as CEO: the acquisition of flatware brand Hampton Forge this January.
As part of the reshuffling, Lenox has also announced a new chief revenue officer, Lucas Updegraph. Unlike Burbank, Updepgraph has a traditional tabletop pedigree: He comes to the company from Villeroy & Boch, where he was president and CEO since 2019, and worked for more than a decade at the Waterford, Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Royal Albert and Rogaška brands.
Homepage photo: The Blue Bay collection from Lenox | Courtesy of Lenox