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Comfort Joining Wet Seal as Head Merchant

Resigns chief merchandising officer post at Hot Topic.

Maria Comfort has resigned as chief merchandising officer of the Hot Topic division of Hot Topic Inc., to join The Wet Seal Inc. as president and chief merchandise officer of the Wet Seal division. The appointment is effective Aug. 25.

Comfort succeeds Dyan Jozwick, who resigned on May 30 to join Bebe Stores Inc. as executive vice president and chief merchandise officer of its Bebe retail division.

Comfort joined Hot Topic in August 2005 from the Lillie Rubin division of Cache Inc. where she served as general merchandise manager. Earlier in her career, she was president of the 9 & Co. division of Nine West and executive vice president of Giorgio Armani Corp. She was also an executive at Contempo Casuals prior to its acquisition by Wet Seal.
Her resignation follows the departure last month of Michael Crooke as president of the Hot Topic division after only one month with the company.

Hot Topic Inc. chief executive officer Betsy McLaughlin has managed the Hot Topic division in addition to her corporate responsibilities since Crooke’s exit.

Wet Seal Inc. ceo Ed Thomas said Comfort “brings a tremendous wealth of merchandising and organizational leadership skills to our company. Her passion for, and experience in, young women’s apparel and accessories make Maria the ideal leader to build upon the Wet Seal division’s recent success.”

The teen clothing retailer came in just above analysts’ expectations in June, reporting same-store sales slid 2.9 percent after gains in the two previous months.

Wet Seal operates 496 stores throughout the U.S. under the West Seal and Arden B. nameplates. Hot Topic operates 157 Torrid stores in addition to 683 Hot Topic units.