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Talbots Taps Senior Merchandising VP

Completing an executive team overhaul as it pursues a turnaround, Talbots Inc. named Lizanne Kindler senior vice president of merchandising and general...

Completing an executive team overhaul as it pursues a turnaround, Talbots Inc. named Lizanne Kindler senior vice president of merchandising and general merchandise manager of the Talbots brand.

This story first appeared in the January 25, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The $2.2 billion Talbots has been battling weak sales and a falling stock price. The kids’ and men’s businesses will be discontinued by the fall so the company can better focus on its core misses’, special sizes, Collection, accessories, shoes and J. Jill operations. In addition, a new ad agency was hired last year to elevate the image. The delivery schedule changed to more regular deliveries, markdowns are more frequent and the company has been aggressively reaching out to customers via e-mail, direct mail and incentives. The chain’s strategic review, unveiled in October, will be concluded in the first quarter of this year.

“The addition of Lizanne reflects our company’s ongoing initiative to strengthen, reposition and reinvigorate our Talbots brand,” Trudy F. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of Talbots Inc., said in a statement. She added that Kindler’s appointment completes the process of filling five key executive slots.

This month, Paula Bennett was named president of the J. Jill division. In December, the Talbots division selected Basha Cohen to be executive vice president and chief merchandising officer; Michael Smaldone, chief creative officer, and Jeannie Barsam, senior vice president, merchandise planning and analysis. Philip Kowalczyk was named chief operating officer of Talbots Inc. in November, and Sullivan became ceo in July.

Kindler, 38, had been senior vice president and general merchandise manager of Ann Taylor Loft, which competes directly with Talbots. She helped guide the vision and strategic direction for Loft, reorganized the merchandising team to support growth initiatives and was involved in planning and allocation, marketing, visual merchandising and stores, Talbots said. She joined Loft’s parent, AnnTaylor Stores Corp., in 1992, and held merchant roles at the Loft and Ann Taylor divisions.

At Talbots, Kindler will oversee the merchandising strategy and development of apparel, shoe and accessories at the Talbots brand. She will report to Cohen, who also has the product development team reporting to her. Talbots’ merchandising directors will report into Kindler.