By  on January 20, 2010

Gregory Scott, who resigned as Bebe Stores Inc’s chief executive officer in January 2009 after a stormy five-year tenure, could be next in line to run New York & Company Inc.

Sources said Scott is being offered a top post at New York & Co., which would establish him as the lead candidate to succeed Richard Crystal, the 64-year-old chairman, president and ceo. Crystal’s employment contract was extended last year to February 2011.

Sources also said Scott, considered a strong merchant more so than an operations executive, has been actively seeking a job and has been talking to companies in New York.

Crystal declined comment. He is recognized as building New York & Co. into a national specialty retail force, and earlier in his career was a high-level Macy’s merchant. Scott could not be reached Tuesday.

Lisa Rhodes, executive vice president of Maurices Inc., is also on the move. Rhodes is leaving the Duluth, Minn.-based chain on Jan. 22 for a new job in the New York area. She declined to comment on her new post.

A new leader of New York & Co. will be challenged to turn around the business, sharpen its trendy image selling sexy, modern and moderate price apparel and accessories targeting women 25 to 45, and execute some recently announced strategies such as rolling out outlets for the first time. Twenty to 25 outlets, selling clearance goods initially and eventually merchandise produced specifically for them, could open this year. New York & Co. also recently introduced a beauty line called City Beauty.

Crystal recently forecast that New York & Co. will turn a profit in its fourth quarter after losses earlier in the year and should see improved performance in the first half. In the third quarter of 2009, the chain’s net loss shrank to $6.3 million, from $7.9 million in the year-ago quarter. Sales were down 8.5 percent to $227.9 million, from $249 million, as comps fell 8.4 percent. For the nine months, the net loss was $16 million, versus a profit of $7.6 million in the 2008 period. Revenue slid 13 percent to $708.6 million.

New York & Co. operates about 600 stores in 44 states and an e-commerce site, and generates about $1 billion in annual sales.

Scott is steeped in specialty store experience, though he left Bebe amid concerns over some of the strategies he implemented and the company’s performance. He was embroiled in controversy when he first joined Bebe and got sued by his previous employer, The Wet Seal Inc., for breach of contract. The suit was dismissed.

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