By  on April 29, 2010

Gregory Scott, a former chief executive officer of Bebe Stores Inc., will succeed New York & Company Inc. chairman and ceo Richard P. Crystal, who is retiring when his contract expires on Feb. 11.

Scott, 47, will become president of the chain on June 1, and ceo when Crystal leaves. Scott will also join the board. The last president of New York & Company was Ron Ristau, who left about a year ago and was primarily an operations executive, rather than a merchant. Crystal, 65, assumed the responsibilities of president without taking the title.

“Now is the appropriate time to put New York & Company’s next generation of leadership in place,” Crystal said. “Greg is a talented merchant and an outstanding choice for president of our company. His track record of success, along with his approachable and collaborative leadership style, gives me great confidence in his ability to be successful at New York & Company. I look forward to working closely with Greg over the next nine months to ensure a seamless transition.”

New York & Company operates about 600 stores in 44 states and an e-commerce site, and generates about $1 billion in annual sales.

The succession plan, announced Thursday, confirmed a WWD report.

“The challenges are really to continue the work we have been doing,” said John D. Howard, ceo of Irving Place Capital, which owns 51 percent of New York & Company. “Remember, when we bought New York & Co., it was Lerner’s Stores, a chain people wanted to stay away from in droves. We changed the name, under Richard’s leadership, and the challenge going forward is to define the brand.”

Other sources said the challenge also involves sharpening the store’s image selling sexy, modern and moderate price apparel and accessories targeting women 25 to 45, and executing new strategies such as rolling out outlets for the first time. Twenty to 25 outlets, selling clearance goods initially and eventually merchandise produced specifically for them, could open this year.

Howard said Crystal has been “a trusted and valued management partner” for the past eight years and was instrumental in taking the company public in 2004 and building it into a well-recognized national brand.

Before working at Bebe, Scott was president of Arden B., a division of Wet Seal Inc. He also held senior level merchandising positions at Ann Taylor Stores and Henri Bendel. He began his retail career in the executive training program at Macy’s West.

Scott resigned as Bebe’s ceo in January 2009 after a stormy five-year tenure. He is steeped in specialty store experience, though he left Bebe amid concerns over some of the strategies he implemented and the company’s performance. He was involved in controversy when he joined Bebe after Wet Seal sued him for breach of contract. The suit was dismissed.

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