NEW YORK — Patricia Van Cleave has joined Hot Topic Inc. in the new post of chief merchandising officer.Van Cleave, whose merchandising and retail experience included a stint as president of The Cherokee Group, was most recently president and chief executive of Sundance Catalog Co. and president of Sundance Farms. At Hot Topic, she reports to Betsy McLaughlin, president and chief executive officer. Cindy Levitt, general merchandise manager, and Alan Krakirian, vice president of planning and allocation, report to Van Cleave, whose duties also will include marketing and Internet activities.In a statement, McLaughlin said Van Cleave "will play a key role in the development and execution of company strategy and the continued positioning of Hot Topic as a differentiated retail concept."Prior to joining Cherokee in 1995, she held retail posts including senior vice president and general merchandise manager of Bon Marché and later executive vice president of merchandising for The Broadway.The company cited weak male apparel sales when, as reported, it warned July 31 that it wouldn’t meet its second- and third-quarter earnings and sales estimates. In the second quarter ended Aug. 3, earnings rose 1.5 percent to $4.3 million, or 13 cents a share, while sales moved ahead 28.5 percent to $92.5 million and same-store sales inched up 0.6 percent.Based in City of Industry, Calif., Hot Topic operates 404 Hot Topic units, which emphasize music-influenced apparel for teens, in 48 states plus 17 Torrid stores, which carry plus-size apparel for young women.

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