By  on June 18, 2007

NEW YORK — Heeding the call of the outdoor life, Neil Fiske has resigned as chief executive officer of the Bath & Body Works division of Limited Brands Inc. to join Eddie Bauer in Seattle as president and ceo, effective July 9.

Fiske's successor is Diane Neal, who has held a co-leadership post with him since October, when she was named president and chief operating officer of the BBW division. Neal's day-to-day operations of the business have included oversight of the field, finance, insight implementation and home fragrances.

During the last four years, Fiske, who was named ceo of BBW in February 2003, hammered out a theory of affordable luxury — as expounded in his book "Trading Up," to reposition and reinvent BBW, unleashing the chain's entrepreneurial drive in brand development, drafting a flagship format and making it clear he wasn't afraid of change. In effect, Fiske, who previously worked for 14 years at the Boston Consulting Group, greatly transformed the definition of beauty and pushed its boundaries, both for BBW and the entire industry.

BBW does not break out figures, but according to a statement from Bauer, Fiske reversed more than two years of negative comp store sales and declining profits. Sales grew from $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion during his tenure, with record profits in 2006, according to Bauer.

"Neil is leaving the business well positioned for the future and I am grateful for what he has done," said Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and ceo of Limited Brands. In the past, Fiske has regularly credited Wexner as having provided the leadership and inspiration for most of the innovations at BBW.

As for Neal, Wexner said, "Diane is a strong leader with a merchant mind-set and broad multistore experience. She has broad and substantial retail and leadership skills. She has led system and process improvement initiatives for us and has shared our commitment to growth. I am confident in her leadership as we continue to grow this brand, already the largest specialty beauty brand in North America."

In addition, Bill May, previously executive vice president and chief operating officer at Payless ShoeSource, has been named chief operating officer of Victoria's Secret Stores. He also was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Tween Brands Inc. and held various senior positions at Gap Inc.That also is Neal's alma mater. Prior to joining Limited Brands, Neal had been president of the Gap Inc.'s outlets division, a role she held for 18 months. Before being named president of Gap Outlets, she had been the division's senior vice president of merchandising. Before joining the Gap, Neal spent close to 20 years at Target Corp., serving as president of Target's Mervyns' division from 2001 to 2004. She also held a variety of merchandising, planning and sourcing roles for Target Corp.

At BBW, Neal will head a team that includes LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton veteran Camille McDonald, former Procter & Gamble executive Anne Martin-Vachon, Betsy Schmalz, executive vice president of creative and technological innovation for Beauty Avenues at Limited Brands, and Leslie Faust, senior vice president of flagships.

Fiske, a Colorado native, said the allure of the outdoor lifestyle positioning attracted him to the Bauer job, but he will be leaving BBW with a bit of sadness. Fiske said what gave him the most satisfaction and, therefore, what he will miss from BBW, will be the people connection of the beauty industry, meaning how people interact with each other and how they interact with the shopping experience. He also said he was grateful for the chance to work with industry figures like Wexner and McDonald.

While he does not possess a fashion résumé, Fiske got a grounding from working with Wexner, who very successfully applied his apparel skills to building a series of related businesses, like Victoria's Secret. Those instincts were applied to BBW, which became known for "a flow of newness and innovation that is much higher than usual. It's a vertical retailer and you can get in and out. There's a lot of fashion DNA in the company and that comes from Les."

Overall, Fiske seemed gratified by BBW's effort. "Not everything we did worked," he said Friday, "but we were pretty fearless and, hopefully, we planted some seeds for future growth." — Pete Born and Julie Naughton

Moss, Coty Celebrate Kate Scent Launch

MARRAKECH, Morocco — Kate Moss is lending her sense of style to her debut fragrance, dubbed Kate.The model, along with Coty Inc., her beauty license holder, feted the launch with a sumptuous soiree in a quirky art-filled space in the medina here Thursday.

The beauty giant aims to capitalize on the wide-ranging appeal that has kept Moss the toast of the fashion set and a household name for two decades.

"[We will] tap into consumer groups that we haven't tapped into before," said Bernd Beetz, chief executive officer of Coty, who added the company is building its portfolio on fashion-, designer- and celebrity-oriented pillars. "[Moss] overlaps fashion and celebrity."

Industry sources estimate the scent, which will bow in Europe and Asia starting in September, will generate $50 million at retail in its first year. Its U.S. launch is planned for spring or fall 2008. The fragrance will be sold through a network of prestige doors and drug stores with perfumery sections. Price points will range from 20 euros, or $27 at current exchange, to 45 euros, or $60, depending on product size.

The scent's pink-tinted juice, concocted by Firmenich perfumer Nathalie Lorson, is a floral musk. Lutz Herrmann designed its glass flacon, which is topped with a vintage-style black cap. Pink outer packaging is decorated with a black rose design complete with thorns.

Moss worked with photographer Craig McDean on the ad campaign, which comprises a close-up of the model holding a black rose with a thorn brushing her lip. John Mathieson directed television spots showing Moss walking through a field of thistles, which transform into black roses.

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