Celia Clancy, a former top Wal-Mart merchant working in the private equity field, is expected to return to retailing soon.

According to sources, Clancy is close to taking the top job at A.J. Wright, a division of TJX Cos. The president’s post has been open for several months.

“I can’t confirm, nor will I deny anything,” Clancy said Friday. TJX officials could not be reached for comment.

Since late 2005, she has been working as a senior operations consultant at Cerberus Capital Management, helping the private equity firm on due diligences and evaluating potential investments. Clancy works with Vanessa Castagna, another former senior Wal-Mart merchant who went on to become chairman and chief executive officer of J.C. Penney stores, catalogue and Internet, and is now executive chairman of Mervyns and a senior member of Cerberus’ operations team. Cerberus is part of the investment consortium that owns Mervyns.

Before joining Cerberus, Clancy was Wal-Mart’s vice president of strategy for apparel and home product development. Earlier, she was Wal-Mart’s senior vice president and general merchandise manager over women’s and girls’ apparel, and before that a divisional merchandise manager.

She joined Wal-Mart in 1997. Earlier in her career, Clancy was a senior vice president and gmm of softlines at Bradlees, which is now defunct.

According to the TJX Web site, A.J. Wright was launched in 1998 and operates similarly to the corporation’s other off-price concepts, but targets the moderate-income customer with apparel and footwear, accessories, home fashions, giftware, including toys and games, and special, opportunistic purchases. Prices are 20 to 70 percent below regular prices at national discount chains and budget department stores. A.J. Wright operates approximately 160 stores. Units average 26,000 square feet. The company believes the division has the potential to ultimately operate 1,000 stores.

This story first appeared in the January 8, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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