By  on November 2, 2007

Michele Cloutier has been promoted to brand president of Chico's, a new position with Chico's FAS Inc.

"It's my job to establish one cohesive brand under one point of view," Cloutier said in an interview.

Cloutier will supervise store sales and marketing, in addition to the merchandising, product development, planning and allocation that she currently handles. Cloutier said her challenge was to anticipate the needs of Chico's Baby Boomer customers more accurately and quickly in a highly competitive specialty retail playing field.

"We still have a great brand and great customers, and, like all retailers, we need to evolve with the needs of our customers," she said.

Cloutier joined Chico's in September 2006 as executive vice president and general merchandise manager. She was named executive vice president and chief merchandising officer in March, succeeding Patricia Murphy Kerstein, who retired. Before Chico's, Cloutier was a senior executive for Ann Taylor, Gap, Gap Body and Banana Republic.

Analyst Jennifer Black, president of Jennifer Black & Assoc., said Cloutier was a charismatic leader who should bring energy to the company and the brand, which has seen sales soften in recent years. "She's made improvements in denim fits, added more novelty and she's committed to less repetition," Black said.

Chico's FAS Inc.'s strategy, outlined last spring by Scott Edmonds, president, chairman and chief executive officer, involves appointing visionary leaders to represent each of the company's three divisions — Chico's, White House|Black Market and Soma Intimates.

In August, Chico's named Donna Noce Colaco to be brand president of White House|Black Market. A brand president for Soma has not been selected.

Chico's FAS Inc., based in Fort Myers, Fla., has 998 women's specialty stores in 48 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, including 588 Chico's frontline stores, 36 Chico's outlet stores, 287 White House|Black Market frontline stores, 19 White House|Black Market outlet stores, 67 Soma Intimates frontline stores and one Soma Intimates outlet store.

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