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Loehmann’s Taps Steven Newman for CEO Post

Retailer has a merchant back running its business, after tumbling through a Chapter 11 restructuring and emerging from bankruptcy last March.

Loehmann’s has a merchant back running its business, after tumbling through a Chapter 11 restructuring and emerging from bankruptcy last March.

This story first appeared in the June 8, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Steven M. Newman will join the 40-unit off-price chain next week as chief executive officer, succeeding interim ceo Joe Melvin, who will remain as chief operating officer. Melvin succeeded Gerald Politzer, who left last March.

Newman’s challenge will be to restore Loehmann’s reputation as a leading off-pricer with top labels, including some at the designer level, and put the business back on the growth track. He was not available for comment Tuesday. The search was conducted by Loehmann’s board and Herbert Mines Associates.

Loehmann’s, founded by Frieda Loehmann in 1921, sells apparel and accessories at 30 to 65 percent below department store prices. The company has struggled for years and never quite recovered from an earlier bankruptcy around the turn of the century.

The company recently added some board members, including Art Reiner, who became board chairman in March. He previously served as ceo of the now-defunct Finlay Enterprises jewelry business and as ceo of Macy’s East. Newman’s “range of experience working with numerous top-quality retailers over the years will benefit us greatly as we look to grow our business and expand our brand,” Reiner said.

The 51-year-old Newman was president of the Ashley Stewart specialty chain for large-sized women. Earlier, he was executive vice president at New York & Co. and president of Eddie Bauer Apparel. He also had stints at Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor and Gap Inc. and started his career at Macy’s East.

To emerge from Chapter 11, Loehmann’s secured $45 million in exit financing from Wells Fargo Bank N.A. and Whippoorwill Associates Inc., a $25 million infusion through a rights offering to Class A noteholders backstopped by Istithmar World and Whippoorwill, and eliminated much of its debt and interest charges and made cost reductions.