NEW YORK — Laura Weil, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer at Ann Taylor Stores Corp., has abruptly left the company after just eight months on the job.

Weil was considered second in command, reporting to Kay Krill, president and chief executive officer.

“She left yesterday to pursue other business interests,” Krill said Thursday. Krill declined to go into further details about the departure.

The announcement was surprising, considering Weil joined Ann Taylor only last fall and because the company has been showing improved product and results.

However, one source in the executive recruiting field said, “I’m not stunned.” The source noted that Weil’s experience is primarily as a financial executive, but at Ann Taylor, she had a very broad role. When she was hired, the company said she would have responsibility for finance and accounting, as well as investor relations; merchandise planning; information systems; all supply chain operations including sourcing, logistics and distribution; real estate; construction and facilities, and purchasing.

Krill said Weil will not be replaced. Instead, Jim Smith, the chief financial officer, and chief supply officer Tony Romano will report directly to Krill. Romano has sourcing and logistics responsibilities and will add information technology to his duties. Weil noted he once previously supervised IT.

“I want to leverage our talent,” Krill said. “We have a very strong team. Both businesses [Loft and Ann Taylor] are making tremendous progress. We are in good shape.”

Krill also said the company has recruited Michael Kingston as chief information officer, reporting to Romano. He was the chief technology officer at Coach.

Prior to joining the 824-unit Ann Taylor, Weil was American Eagle Outfitters’ cfo and executive vice president since 1995, and a key player in AE’s growth and success. Earlier, she was at Oppenheimer & Co., where she oversaw the retail and consumer investment banking group. She also once worked at R.H. Macy & Co. and Lehman Brothers.

This story first appeared in the May 5, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.