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Clint Engel

Lou Spagna named CEO of retailer I.O. Metro

Founder Jay Howard leaves to take job at Sam's Club

ROGERS, Ark. - I.O. Metro co-founder and CEO Jay Howard has left the retailer to take a management position with Sam's Club in Bentonville, Ark., I.O. Metro announced. He remains a shareholder of the Rogers, Ark.-based furniture retailer.

Lou Spagna, president and chief operating officer, assumed the CEO role at I.O. Metro on Dec. 17.
Spagna joined the retailer as COO in early 2012 after overseeing the company's delivery logistics restructure as a consultant, and "has overseen and helped drive sales growth and profit for the company," the 17-store retailer said in a release.

"I am so proud of everything the I.O. Metro team and I have achieved in eight short years," Howard said.

"I do not want that momentum to slow. This was the most difficult decision of my life, but I have observed too many founding entrepreneurs ignore the fact that they need the help of experienced leadership. Lou is the right executive for the next phase of I.O. Metro's growth."

He added that Spagna's "30-plus years of retail experience has greatly impacted the company over the past 12 months."

Spagna spent 12 years in various merchandising positions for May Department Stores, and earlier held executive roles at apparel and fashion industry retailers Bugle Boy Retail and Haggar Direct and was president of The Vangard Group, a consultant specializing in operational restructuring, strategic planning and organizational development.

In the release, Spagna said he was thrilled for the opportunity and said Howard "has really shaped I.O. Metro into a company capable of tremendous growth and I'm excited at the opportunity to influence the brand's next steps in achieving that growth."

Christine Howard, co-founder and creative director of I.O. Metro, will take on new responsibilities with the transition, assisting with product development and merchandising and marketing vision, the company said.

The eclectic retailer operates 17 stores, primarily in the South.

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