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Beth Pritchard Resigns From BBW

NEW YORK — Beth Pritchard, president and chief executive officer of Bath & Body Works, has announced her retirement from the personal care product retailer.<br><br>Ken Stevens, current executive vice president and chief operating officer of BBW,...

NEW YORK — Beth Pritchard, president and chief executive officer of Bath & Body Works, has announced her retirement from the personal care product retailer.

Ken Stevens, current executive vice president and chief operating officer of BBW, will become president, according to a company statement. A spokeswoman would not elaborate on whether BBW will look for a replacement for the ceo slot.

Whether Pritchard’s resignation is related to the chain’s recent financial setbacks is also unknown. The 1,600-store chain watched its comp-store sales dive 11 percent in 2001. Annual sales for BBW slipped to $1.74 billion in 2001 from $1.78 billion in fiscal 2000. Its parent, Limited Brands Inc., admitted last March that BBW would continue to be challenged throughout the year.

Despite the slump, analysts praised Pritchard, 56, for her 12-year career at the company, where she helped build a bath-store-within-a-store format in Express outlets to a more than $2 billion retail operation. In 1999, Pritchard also led the launch of White Barn Candle Company, a 100-unit retail chain.

“Beth was directly responsible for the growth of BBW,” said Jeff Stinson, a research analyst for Midwest Research. “But [BBW] is at a point in time where it needs to probably go in another direction and find a way to revitalize growth. Not that Beth could not do that…but I don’t know that that is what she wanted to do, and it probably makes sense to bring new life into the business.”