Claire Watts, Wal-Mart’s top apparel executive and once among the highest ranked women at the world’s largest retailer, resigned Thursday, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said.

Dottie Mattison, a 12-year Gap Inc. veteran who joined Walmart.com in 2006, will become senior vice president and general merchandise manager over women’s apparel. She will report to chief merchant John Fleming.

Watts joined Wal-Mart in 1997 after stints at Limited Stores and May Department Stores Co., and moved up the ranks quickly, eventually running the retailer’s soft goods merchandising empire.

But her efforts to bring in trendier and pricier apparel and home décor to U.S. stores fell short with core shoppers. In January, when Fleming was named chief merchant, Watts was relieved of responsibilities for home décor.

For complete coverage, see Monday’s issue of WWD.