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Ann Taylor Names American Eagle Exec Its New Chief Operating Officer

Furthering its management restructuring commenced last March, Ann Taylor Stores Corp. on Wednesday named Laura A. Weil as chief operating officer.

NEW YORK — Furthering its management restructuring commenced last March, Ann Taylor Stores Corp. on Wednesday named Laura A. Weil as chief operating officer.

Weil has been American Eagle Outfitters’ chief financial officer and executive vice president since 1995, and a key player in AEO’s growth and success.

In her new role, Weil becomes the number-two executive for the 782-unit Ann Taylor specialty retailer, which operates Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft chains, as well as outlets and an online business. Weil, who will report to Ann Taylor Corp. president Kay Krill, will be responsible for finance and accounting, investor relations, merchandise planning, information systems, all supply chain operations including sourcing, logistics and distribution, real estate, construction and facilities, and purchasing.

Last March, Ann Taylor said its chief executive J. Patrick Spainhour would be leaving the company in October, and would be succeeded by Krill, primarily a merchant. Krill is best known for her success in elevating the Loft division into a major national chain. Currently, she is attempting to turn around the struggling Ann Taylor division.

Weil will be taking over several of the responsibilities that have been handled by Spainhour, also largely a financial and operations executive.

Weil has 20 years of experience. At American Eagle, where she worked for 10 years, she had responsibility for all financial aspects of the operations. Previously, she was at Oppenheimer & Co., where she oversaw the retail and consumer investment banking group. She also once worked at R.H. Macy & Co. and Lehman Brothers. 

Krill said in a statement that Weil will be “an excellent partner to me. Her background, which includes proven expertise in all areas of finance and operations, will be a strong complement to the experience of our existing team and will be invaluable as we continue to grow our business and maximize shareholder value.”

In August, the company announced that Ron Hovsepian, a director of the company since 1998, was elected as non-executive chairman of the board, as part of the management succession plan.

American Eagle did not announce a successor to Weil but said that Joan Hilson, senior vice president of finance who was recently hired from Limited Brands and Victoria’s Secret Stores, and Dale Clifton, vice president and controller, will report directly into Jim O’Donnell, ceo, until a successor for Weil is found.

This story first appeared in the September 1, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.