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One Week After Snipes Founder Sven Voth Steps Down as CEO, Snipes USA Chief Merchandising Officer Brian Forde Retires

Update: Jan. 18, 2023

One week after Snipes SE founder Sven Voth stepped down from his role as CEO, the chief merchandising officer of the retailer’s U.S. business has retired.

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Snipes USA confirmed in a statement on Thursday that chief merchandising officer Brian Forde, a 40-year sneaker industry veteran, has retired. In 2017, Forde joined KicksUSA, which was acquired by Snipes in 2019 as the German retailer looked to make inroads in the U.S. market. During Forde’s tenure with Snipes USA credited Forde via statement for playing a pivotal role in building the brand stateside, which has grown from 64 to more than 350 stores.

Succeeding Forde is 30-year sneaker industry veteran Dimitrios “Jimmy” Lessen, who will assume the chief merchandising officer role as of Feb. 13. Prior to joining Snipes USA, Lessen most recently served as the VP and general merchandising manager of Foot Locker North America. Lessen also held the general merchandising manager role at Foot Locker Europe for seven years.

Snipes USA, chief merchandising officer, Brian Forde, Dimitrios Lessen
Snipes USA chief merchandising officer Brian Forde (L) and his successor, Dimitrios “Jimmy” Lessen.Courtesy of Snipes USA

Lessen will report to Snipes USA president Jim Bojko. The retailer confirmed Forde will support the transition in an advisory function until he steps down in June.

“For 40 years, Brian has been at the heart of sneaker culture. I’m thankful for his deep experience and charismatic leadership in helping fine-tune our go-to-market approach to the US sneaker and streetwear consumer,” Bojko said in a statement. “At the same time, I’m excited to welcome Jimmy to the Snipes team. He is highly trusted with our vendor partners and brings deep product passion and knowledge. Jimmy will ensure we stay at the cutting edge of sneaker and streetwear fashion.”

What We Reported on Jan. 12, 2023

Snipes SE founder Sven Voth is stepping down from his role as CEO, effective on Friday.

Moving ahead, Voth will remain with the German footwear retailer as founder and will primarily focus on expansion, wholesale, product trends and innovation, collaborations, and the U.S. business in a two-year transition before moving into a consultancy role on Jan. 1, 2026.

And as Voth prepares for his next face, Dennis Schröder, who has been the general manager of the company since April, will take over responsibility for the sneaker and streetwear retailer as CEO.

In a statement on Friday, Voth called Snipes his life’s work. “Snipes will always be a part of me,” Voth said. “I realize that it is time to hand over the baton and Dennis Schröder already enjoys the recognition of all colleagues in the company after a very short time. He brings experience from the retail business and a lot of brand knowledge and is already noticeably enriching the company with his expertise and ideas in a very short space of time.”

Prior to joining Snipes last year, Schröder most recently served as general manager at 11teamsports and founded the start-up Teamsports.ai. Previously, he held strategic roles at Nike, including global strategic account director, and Puma.

Snipes Barclays
The Snipes storefront near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.Courtesy of Snipes

“As the founder and long-standing CEO, Sven Voth has shaped Snipes for over 25 years and uniquely positioned it strategically. Sven Voth has made Snipes what it is today. I’m looking forward to continuing the history of this great company in my new role,” said Schröder, who now chairs the board of managing directors.

It was only in 2023 when Snipes appointed three additional managing directors – Dennis Schröder (now CEO), Peter Buse (COO), and Daniel Bontjer (CRO) – alongside Tim Spickenbom (CFO) and Voth.

“Snipes is a company with a great philosophy, an incomparable USP, and employees who are keen to be ‘more than a retailer’ and help shape the future of Snipes and its role in the global street culture cosmos,” Schröder added. “All this certainly comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of work – I’m not afraid of this situation, because that’s exactly what I set out to do.”

Voth, who sold the majority stake of the Snipes SE to the Deichmann Group in 2011, founded the company in 1998 and has developed it over the years into a billion-dollar group with over 750 stores in 12 countries.

Snipes first entered the U.S. market in 2019 with the acquisition of KicksUSA. The company further cemented its American footing with the acquisition of Jimmy Jazz in 2021.

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