Dunn joined Walmart in 2017 as senior vice president of digital consumer brands, overseeing a string of start-ups the retailer snapped up in its bid to compete against Amazon.
In the space of a few years, Walmart also bought the e-commerce venture Jet.com, bringing in founder Marc Lore as president and chief executive of Walmart e-commerce, as well as retro-inspired women’s apparel line Modcloth and plus-size retailer Eloquii. Dunn was enlisted to help create new brands, many of which never came to fruition.
But the digital ventures didn’t live up to the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant’s expectations. Most of the new brands operated deep in the red while failing to draw the young, urban consumers Walmart believed it needed to head off Amazon and other online competitors. In July, Recode reported that Walmart was losing as much as $1 billion on running digital properties.
Walmart sold Modcloth in October to Go Global Retail, an investment firm. Also that month, Bonobos, still not profitable, underwent layoffs. Jenny Fleiss, who headed JetBlack, a luxury concierge service launched in 2017 that had reportedly amassed only 600 subscribers, also departed.
Dunn hasn’t had a hand in Bonobos’ daily operations for nearly two years, though he did attend an all-hands meeting on the day of the cuts. He announced his exit on LinkedIn, saying he would leave the company in early 2020 without specifying where he was headed next. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I learned a lot more about retail transformation in the digital age at the world’s biggest company,” he wrote in a post on LinkedIn announcing his exit. “With my departure, that incubator will now be plugged directly into the Walmart mothership.”
Dunn founded Bonobos in 2007, with a pitch to consumers that the brand had designed better-fitting men’s pants. It became known for its “guideshop” retail concept, where customers could browse products and try them on, but purchases would be shipped to their homes from centralised warehouses. The inventory-free concept has since been adopted by companies ranging from Nordstrom and Canada Goose. Bonobos has 60 stores and about 600 employees.
Bonobos raised $127 million but was having trouble raising additional funding before the Walmart acquisition. The brand was generating under $200 million in sales at the time.