By  on March 30, 2012

Amid rumors of an initial public offering, Charming Charlie, the women’s fashion jewelry and accessories retailer, is beefing up its executive ranks.

The eight-year-old company has tapped Judi Langley, a former senior vice president of design and trend at Kohl’s Corp., as its new executive vice president and chief merchandising officer. The Houston-based brand also appointed ex Office Max e-commerce executive John Hnanicek as vice president and chief information officer, a role that will enable him to enhance the brand’s technological infrastructure.

The brand hired Melissa Whitehead, a senior vice president at Ulta Salon, as its senior vice president of store operations. With more than 30 years of store operating experience, Whitehead will implement strategies for Charming Charlie’s 185-door base.

Robin Beighley will assist Whitehead, overseeing retail operations, store communication, customer experience and process strategy, as the brand’s new store operations director. Most recently, Beighley held similar roles at The Walt Disney Co. and at Victoria’s Secret. All the posts are new, except for Whitehead’s job, which was previously held by Ronald Batts.

“People are truly the foundation of our business — we are being proactive about the caliber of leadership in order to best achieve our ambitious growth plans,” Charming Charlie founder and chief executive officer Charlie Chanaratsopon told WWD.

Part of the push to add new members to the team is directly related to the rapid growth the brand has experienced since 2008, when it had just 14 doors.

Since then, the women’s accessories company has added 171 locations. A large amount of that growth occurred between 2010 and 2011, when the brand expanded its fleet by 82 doors, or to 178 locations. In 2012, the retailer expects to open between 50 and 60 stores.

Although the brand would not comment on IPO speculation, it did offer insight into its success.

According to Suchit Majmudar, vice president of brand development and strategy, Charming Charlie’s affordable price point — under $50 — coupled with its large store format and color-coded merchandising strategy make it stand out from the competition. 

Stores, which are between 8,000 and 9,000 square feet each, are in both small towns and cities.

Calling the brand “retail agnostic,” Majmudar said that value-driven consumers appreciate how Charming Charlie presents its merchandise by color.

“We’ve experienced the most explosive growth during the country’s most challenging economic times,” said Majmudar. “I think adding all of the new appointments is simply the next step in the evolution of our brand, moving from a regional specialty retailer to a national specialty retailer.”

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