By  on August 11, 2011

NEW YORK — Celia Clancy has been named president and chief executive officer of Ashley Stewart, a large-size chain with 187 stores. She succeeds Laura Weil, who resigned to pursue other interests, the company said.

Clancy said her previous experience at A.J. Wright and Wal-Mart should serve her well as she positions Ashley Stewart for growth. The retailer began catering to plus-size customers with sexy, fashion-forward styles in the early Nineties.

“Ashley Stewart has been through a lot of ups and downs,” Clancy said. “The loyal customer hasn’t left. There’s a whole ambiance to the brand. It has a great heritage of serving a plus-size customer and there’s a great opportunity to build on that. Ashley Stewart got a lot of things right in terms of understanding the customer and what she wants in terms of color and embellishments.”

Ashley Stewart recently unveiled a new store prototype in Brooklyn and Chicago. Clancy said she plans to remodel many of the company’s existing units. “We’re working furiously on our real estate strategy,” she said. “We want to expand the retail footprint and develop new channels of growth, including e-commerce and licensing.”

In terms of products, Clancy said Ashley Stewart has been testing intimate apparel and is growing fashion accessories and jewelry. “There are other categories we’ll be dipping our toe into,” she said. “This customer wants head-to-toe dressing.”

Prior to joining Ashley Stewart, Clancy spent four years as president of A.J. Wright, a division of The TJX Cos. Inc. Despite record profits, A.J. Wright was shuttered at the beginning of 2011 in an effort by TJX to accelerate growth at its T.J. Maxx and Marshalls off-price apparel chains. Clancy stayed on at TJX as a consultant, working on the consolidation.

Before joining A.J. Wright, Clancy was a senior operations consultant at Cerberus, a private equity firm in New York. She held senior merchandising positions at Wal-Mart from 1997 to 2005.

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