By  on May 24, 2007

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Struggling with declining profits, mall-based retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. announced at its annual shareholders meeting Wednesday that Sally Frame Kasaks has been named chairman and chief executive officer.

Kasaks, 62, has been a top retail executive for more than two decades. She was chairman and chief executive officer of Talbots from 1985 to 1988, president and ceo of Abercrombie & Fitch, 1989 to 1992, and chairman and ceo of Ann Taylor stores, 1992 to 1996. Kasaks had been interim ceo at PacSun since Seth Johnson stepped down in October.

She joined the company as a board member in 1997, and was later named lead director, the position she held before becoming interim ceo.

"Last year was disappointing by any measure," Kasaks told shareholders.

Later, she said in an interview, "We have to reexamine a lot of the business.…We have to demonstrate that we can deliver. We haven't done that."

Her contract with the Anaheim-based company, which operates 1,199 stores spanning four retail concepts, extends through Jan. 31, 2010.

"More than anything else, we need stability, and I think she will provide that," said PacSun president Tom Kennedy.

PacSun reported net income of $40 million for fiscal 2006, compared with net income of $126 million the previous year. Same store net sales decreased by 4.7 percent in 2006.

For the three months ended May 5, the company lost $5.1 million, compared with net income of $11.9 million in the same year-ago period. The company blamed the downturn partly on lease termination charges and additional inventory impairment costs incurred with the closing of 74 underperforming D.e.m.o. stores.

Another factor cited as contributing to the slide was mistakes in the merchandising of junior apparel. Company sales are comprised of 57 percent male and 43 percent female, a ratio the company hopes to push toward 50-50.

Other priorities include the continuation of the rollout of the "Refresh" store concept, an initiative introduced last year to modernize — but not completely renovate — high-performing PacSun stores.

"In boating I learned to keep your feet firmly planted and your knees bent," Kasaks said. "That way, we'll have flexibility but also the strength to hold our own."

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