Guitar Center shakes up C-suite; names new CEO

Zachary Russell
Digital Editor
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Guitar Center
Guitar Center is shaking up its C-suite leadership.

Musical instrument giant Guitar Center has made several changes to its senior leadership.

The company announced that Gabriel Dalporto has been named CEO, effective immediately. He replaces Ron Japinga, who has served in the role since August 2016. No reason was  given for his departure. Japinga will also no longer serve as a member of the board.

In other changes, Ken C. Hicks has been appointed chairman of the board. And Tim Martin is returning to Guitar Center in his prior role as CFO, effective immediately.

 Dalporto has been a member of the Guitar Center’s board of directors since December 2018, and brings to Guitar Center over 25 years of experience at customer-centric organizations. He previously served in various C-suite roles at LendingTree, where helped drive the company's transition from a microcap, mortgage-focused marketplace to a multi-billion dollar, fully diversified financial services marketplace, according to Guitar Center. 

"Gabe [Dalporto] has deep expertise in areas critical to advancing Guitar Center's strategic initiatives, including digital transformation, customer acquisition and maintaining a best-in-class customer experience,” stated Guitar Center’s equity investors, including funds managed by the Ares Private Equity Group, The Carlyle Group and Brigade Capital Management (collectively, "The Investor Group"). “As a board member, his insights have been invaluable, and we are thrilled to welcome him as the company's next leader."

Hicks, the new chairman of the board, is a retail veteran with over 40 years of operations and management experience. He currently serves as the executive chairman of Academy Sports and Outdoors, and previously served as chairman, president and CEO of the company, where he led its transition to becoming a public company. 

Prior to that, Hicks served as the chairman, president and CEO of Foot Locker, Inc. and has held leadership positions at J.C. Penney, Payless ShoeSource, Home Shopping Network, May Department Stores Company and McKinsey & Company.

Martin is returning to Guitar Center as CFO, a position he held from 2012-2022, effective immediately. Martin is an financial and operational retail veteran, with more than 25 years of experience at multiple consumer-facing companies including Torrid, Lands' End, Gap, Disney, Coldwater Creek and Amgen.

"Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for Guitar Center, our employees and our valued customers,” said The Investor Group. “The appointments of Gabe and Ken, as well as Tim's return, will bring substantial new capabilities to the Company that will allow us to unlock new growth opportunities. Gabe's transformation and digital expertise combined with Ken's retail experience, along with Tim's extensive knowledge of the company and industry, position Guitar Center well for long-term success."

Guitar Center operates more than 300 stores across the U.S., as well as having a strong omnichannel presence.