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Agio International Names Andy Sokol Vice President

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Agio International has named Andy Sokol, a 27 year furniture industry veteran, as vice president of sales.  Sokol will lead the outdoor manufacturer’s newest initiative to make additional inroads and increase sales from among traditional home furnishing retailers.

Sokol brings 27 years of retail merchandising experience in home furnishings with him to represent the Agio brand among furniture store retailers. Most recently an executive with Macy’s, Sokol spent most of his career in outdoor furniture with the legendary New York and New Jersey retail chain, Fortunoff.

Announcing the appointment, Agio President Bob Gaylord predicted that Sokol’s nearly three decades of experience on the retail side would immediately impact Agio’s initiative to expand the casual outdoor furniture business into the traditional home furnishings retail segment.

“When Andy and I discussed the possibility of him joining Agio, we realized that we had exactly the same vision in regard to this game changing opportunity,” Gaylord said.

“I’m excited to be joining the Agio team,” Sokol said.  “Agio leads the outdoor industry not only because it has its own design teams, produces a great product and provides value; Agio can execute the delivery of that product.  It’s the total package that’s important to retailers.”

With some of the outdoor furniture industry’s best known experts on the Agio team, Gaylord is bullish on Agio’s sales outlook. “If we’re able to accomplish our goals, it’s possible the outdoor furniture industry can double in size in the next five years.”

Andy was instrumental in making the outdoor category successful with two retailers when it was not their core competency,” said Gaylord.  “That’s why Andy has joined the Agio team – to help us explain and to help retailers understand how to get involved in this segment and succeed.”

Sokol spent the majority of his career with the Fortunoff chain helping to build that store’s legendary casual outdoor furniture business in the New York Tri-State area.  Sokol began his career with another Northeast retail legend, Filene’s Basement in Boston, which at that time was part of the Federated Group.

In the early 1980s Filene’s Basement expanded into the New York market and Sokol volunteered to make the move. Later, when Filene’s Basement offered him a promotion to return to Boston, Sokol declined, opting to stay in New York when a friend referred him to Fortunoff.  Hired initially as an assistant buyer in outdoor furniture, Sokol was quickly promoted to buyer and  eventually named merchandising vice president to oversee Fortunoff’s outdoor business.  Later on that decade, Sokol’s role was expanded to include indoor as well as outdoor furniture.

When the outdoor furniture segment exploded with patio furniture store expansions in the 2000s, Sokol began to focus solely on outdoor furniture again.  He continued Fortunoff’s status as the premier specialty retailer in the country and the template for other retailers to emulate.

Sokol remained at Fortunoff during the economic turbulence of the last decade and weathered the sale of the company twice within three years.  He left the company in February 2009.

Later that year, Sokol joined Macy’s, which at the time sold indoor furniture but not outdoor.   Having convinced Macy’s management that the outdoor category would be a natural fit, Sokol directed a pilot project to carry outdoor furniture in a limited number of stores.   The test proved successful and the program was rolled out on a national basis earlier this year.

A graduate of Boston University in Business, Sokol earned an MBA from St. John’s University in 1989. 

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