By  on November 11, 2013

Dressbarn, a division of the Ascena Retail Group Inc., named Judith Langley executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, succeeding Keith Fulsher, who retired.

“Judith was our first choice. She is focused on style and trend and will play a key role in the evolution of the Dressbarn brand,” David Jaffe, president and chief executive officer of the $4.71 billion Ascena, told WWD.

He said that the appointment, while directly related to Fulsher’s retirement, also reflects changes in the Dressbarn concept over the past year to be more product development driven and less market driven. “It’s not about cost. It’s about delivering the right products and really being sensitive about what our customer is looking for and what we can offer that she can’t get elsewhere,” Jaffe said. “We have been building our team along this strategy for the past year in the trend and design areas. As part of that we are opening a New York design office soon, within a month or two.”

Jeff Gerstel, president of Dressbarn, said he looks forward to “the vision Langley will bring to the brand’s transformation.” In its fiscal year ended July 27, the Dressbarn division posted a slight decline in net sales to $1.02 billion from $1.04 billion. Operating income fell 47 percent to $30.3 million from $56.9 million.

Jaffe said Langley has extensive experience as a merchant and product developer, and will be based at Ascena headquarters in Suffern, N.Y. Most recently, she was executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Charming Charlie’s, a jewelry and accessories chain. Before that, Langley was senior vice president of design and trend at Kohl’s, where she oversaw product direction for 15 brands. Earlier, she held merchandising and product development jobs at Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Gap, Victoria’s Secret and the former May Department Stores Co.

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