By  on July 14, 2009

Charming Shoppes Inc.’s stock picked up 4.1 percent Monday after the plus-size retailer pulled its Figi’s food business off the selling block and made several executive appointments.

The retailer initiated the sale of its Wisconsin-based Figi’s Gifts in Good Taste catalogue business in August to refocus its energies on core brands. But Charming Shoppes said it has halted the sale process because it was unable to find an “acceptable valuation” to complete the transaction.

“Our view is that this is positive in that it shows that the company is not willing to get rid of its assets at fire sale prices,” said C.L. King & Associates Inc. retail analyst Scott Krasik. “They don’t need to sell it in such a distressed manner.”

Even though Figi’s, which was part of Charming Shoppes’ acquisition of Crosstown Traders Inc. in 2005, has been profitable, Krasik said “in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t make any sense to own it,” because “it does not overlap” with any of plus-size retailer’s “core businesses.”

Susquehanna Financial Group retail analyst Thomas Filandro said, “Once the macroeconomic environment improves and a more favorable business valuation is plausible, it is likely Charming Shoppes will revisit the exploration of the sale of Figi’s, providing the company with a foundation to focus its efforts solely on its plus-size apparel concepts.” However, he warned in light of the weak economy, the retailer may have “difficulty divesting noncore businesses or favorably refinancing owned assets.”

Charming Shoppes also announced the appointment of Anthony Romano to executive vice president of global sourcing and business transformation. Romano, who has been responsible for executing business transformation and cost reduction initiatives since February, will continue to report to president and chief executive officer Jim Fogarty.

Lisa Batra was named director of e-commerce for the Fashion Bug Brand, and Kimberly Aylward was appointed director of e-commerce for its Catherines brand. Both will report to Bill Bass, who has recently accepted the permanent role as president of Charming Direct after serving as a consultant.

The firm hired Michele Pascoe as vice president of finance and chief financial officer of the Fashion Bug unit, and Brett Schneider to the same post at Catherines. Both Pascoe and Schneider will report to Eric Specter, the company’s executive vice president and cfo. Additionally, Pascoe will report to Fashion Bug president Jay Levitt, while Schneider will report to Catherines president Carol Williams.

Joseph Long has joined the firm as director of finance for the outlet store division, and Jeffrey Liss as vice president of strategy. Long will report to MaryEllen MacDowell, president of outlets, and Liss will report to Romano.

At the end of trading Monday, Charming Shoppes’ stock closed at $3.77, up 15 cents.

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