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AnnTaylor Reorganizes Management

The new presidents will have full oversight, supervising design, merchandising, stores and visual, the company said.

NEW YORK — AnnTaylor Stores Corp. announced a series of top-level promotions on Tuesday, naming Adrienne Lazarus to be president of AnnTaylor Stores and Donna Noce as president of AnnTaylor Loft divisions.

The 824-unit retailer also promoted Elaine Boltz, senior vice president of corporate strategy and brand development, to executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Boltz succeeds Muriel Gonzalez, who resigned Monday to join Macy’s Merchandising Group next month. Gonzalez will become a senior vice president supervising accessories, jewelry, handbags, footwear and intimate apparel, which is a grouping of categories Macy’s calls “center core.” She will report to Janet Grove, chairman and chief executive of MMG. Macy’s is operated by Federated Department Stores.

In other management changes at AnnTaylor, Brian Lynch was elevated to be executive vice president of the AnnTaylor Factory Stores division. He was senior vice president of AnnTaylor Stores and AnnTaylor Factory.

Gonzalez’s exit from AnnTaylor comes a month after the departure of Laura Weil, who was senior executive vice president and chief operating officer, and considered second in command.

AnnTaylor has a history of high turnover. Unlike earlier defections, the two most recent departures don’t seem related to company performance, which has improved in the past year. First-quarter earnings more than doubled to $39 million on a 17 percent sales gain to $556.2 million. In 2005, AnnTaylor increased net income to $81.9 million from $63.3 million the year before, as sales grew to $2.1 billion from $1.9 billion.

Kay Krill, president and ceo of the corporation, said in an interview Tuesday that she was pleased that all the jobs, including the two division president spots that had been vacant for several seasons, were filled with existing management talent.

“Adrienne and Donna have been key in driving the success of each division’s recent strong results, and both of them have a deep understanding of our business and our brands that was cultivated over their many years with the company,” Krill said.

Lazarus, a 15-year veteran of the corporation, had been executive vice president of merchandise and design at AnnTaylor Stores since March 2005, and was part of the team that launched Loft in the Nineties.

This story first appeared in the June 7, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Noce, who has worked at AnnTaylor for 10 years, was executive vice president of merchandise and design at Loft. She started as a merchandising vice president at the AnnTaylor division.

The new presidents will have full oversight, supervising design, merchandising, stores and visual, the company said.

People familiar with the matter said Gonzalez wanted to work for a bigger company in a merchandising position, and may have joined AnnTaylor with the expectation of running a division or becoming head merchant. Before joining AnnTaylor in February 2005, Gonzalez was a senior executive at Bergdorf Goodman responsible for all merchandise categories except women’s ready-to-wear and men’s wear. Her move to AnnTaylor was considered surprising because of how different Bergdorf’s, a high-style luxury store, is from AnnTaylor Stores, a more moderately priced chain with classic appeal. Before Bergdorf’s, Gonzalez worked at Estée Lauder USA, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s.

As for Weil, who joined AnnTaylor last fall from American Eagle Outfitters, it is believed that her management style didn’t mesh with Krill’s.

Krill, declining to go into detail, said, “It didn’t work out.”

Weil’s AnnTaylor duties were given to Jim Smith, the chief financial officer, and chief supply officer Tony Romano.