By  on April 3, 2009

Turnaround specialist James P. Fogarty, THE NEW president and chief executive officer of Charming Shoppes Inc., said the company has a “strong cash position” and needs to boost productivity and direct mail and Internet business.

Fogarty was named Friday to replace Dorrit Bern, who resigned nine months ago amid a push by activist investors to boost profitability.

“What I like about Charming Shoppes is it has a very strong cash position,” Fogarty said in an interview. “I’m a guy that understands liquidity. It gives it the runway to do what it needs to do to keep the business strong and make it stronger. Also, it’s plus-size specialty retail. It’s not a ‘me-too’ retailer.”

Fogarty is a 15-year veteran of Alvarez & Marsal, a global turnaround firm, where he was a managing director. Most recently, he was president and chief operating officer of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

During his tenure at Alvarez, Fogarty was chief financial officer of Levi Strauss & Co. Levi’s EBITDA almost doubled during the 2003 through 2005 period Fogarty spent with the company. In 2001, he joined the Warnaco Group Inc. as senior vice president and cfo. The global apparel maker emerged from bankruptcy in early 2003 after completing a successful turnaround during his tenure.

“The reason I’m [leaving] Alvarez is the opportunity to lead something unique,” Fogarty said.

Of the company’s three nameplates, Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherines stores, “for sure the Lane Bryant name is the most powerful brand,” Fogarty said, adding that his goal is “making current stores more appealing and more efficient. We need to see a lot more productivity in doors we already have.”

Charming Shoppes, based in Bensalem, Pa., posted a lower-than-expected fourth-quarter loss. In the three months ended Jan. 31, the nation’s largest plus-size apparel retailer had a net loss of $108.5 million, or 94 cents a diluted share, compared with a net loss of $124.4 million, or $1.07 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Quarterly revenue slid 13.7 percent to $631.9 million from $731.8 million. Comparable-store sales fell 15 percent for the quarter.

The company has been operating with an interim ceo, Alan Rosskamm, chairman of the retailer’s board. Fogarty’s appointment is effective immediately.

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