By  on April 10, 2009

Seeking to strengthen its struggling business, The Talbots Inc. has named Benedetta Casamento, a former top Liz Claiborne Inc. official with turnaround experience, as executive vice president of finance.

The position is a new one at Talbots, which during the last 18 months has installed new management across several areas. The company has been modernizing its offerings while implementing cutbacks and trying to sell the J. Jill division as part of a the turnaround strategy orchestrated by president and chief executive Trudy Sullivan, another former top Claiborne official.

Talbots said Thursday that Casamento will play a pivotal role in the overall business operations and add skill and talent to the finance team. She will report to Michael Scarpa, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

“Her broad organizational vision and operational experience in directing complex turnaround strategies will be an invaluable asset as we continue to execute against our strategic plan and make progress in improving the company’s overall operational and financial performance,” Scarpa said.

For the third quarter, Talbots reported a net loss of $14.8 million and a 13.9 percent comparable-store sales decline. The retailer is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results Monday.

“I have long admired the company and believe there is a tremendous opportunity to build upon the strong, classic heritage of the brand,” Casamento said, adding that her experience will enable her “to play a significant role in helping the company continue to make progress on the implementation of its strategic plan.”

A 20-year veteran of fashion and retailing, Casamento, 42, had been working as a consultant. Last October, she ended a nine-year stint at Liz Claiborne, where she served as president of the Liz Claiborne, Claiborne and Monet brands and was responsible for all aspects of brand management and turnaround strategies, including organizational restructuring and cost reductions.

Earlier, Casamento was president overseeing two former Claiborne brands, Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman. She joined the company in 1999 as vice president and group financial director of the retail and international group, and became vice president of financial planning and analysis in 2000. She started her career at Saks Fifth Avenue in accounting and finance, and served as controller of the Off-5th outlets and the catalogue.

At Talbots, Casamento will split her time between the New York offices and the retailer’s Hingham, Mass., headquarters.

Talbots operates 587 Talbots units, 283 J. Jill units, and

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