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Top female executives of apparel and accessories retailers ranked by their companies’ stock performance.

Female power players within the retail industry are notably fewer than their male counterparts. Last year, Terre Simpson, president of Simpson Associates, a retail and apparel executive search firm in Manhattan, said, “You can almost name the top female powerhouses in the retail community on one hand.” So who are they? WWD pulled the top-ranking females from its 2005 executive compensation report and then looked at how their companies’ shares have fared over the past year. In many cases, compensation — not to mention future advancement — is related to company financial results. There are significant differences in stock performance, which might reflect the paucity of female executives within the industry.

1. GEORGIA SHONK-SIMMONS, PRESIDENT, CHIEF MERCHANDISING OFFICER, COLDWATER CREEK
Percent change in company stock price over past year: 165.8
Shonk-Simmons joined Sandpoint, Idaho-based Coldwater Creek as vice president and director of merchandising in 1998. Working alongside Dennis Pence, founder, chairman and chief executive officer, she holds overall responsibility for merchandise, inventory, and creative department functions. Prior to joining the women’s specialty retailer, she held the position of vice president of merchandising for the Spiegel catalogue, where she was responsible for women’s apparel and accessories. In 2005, the National Retail Federation ranked Coldwater Creek the number-two retailer for customer satisfaction, just behind Nordstrom.

2. REBECCA MATTHIAS, PRESIDENT, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, MOTHERS WORK INC.
Percent change: 114.8
Matthias cofounded Mothers Work in 1982 as a catalogue company that has now grown to consist of four specialty maternity brands: A Pea in the Pod, Mimi Maternity, Motherhood Maternity and Destination Maternity, and two exclusive brands: Two Hearts and Oh Baby! By Motherhood. As president and chief operating officer for the company, Matthias works alongside husband Dan Matthias, co-founder, chief executive officer and chairman, and has made “making pregnant women look good” her goal. Mothers Work has grown to become the world’s largest maternity apparel retailer with more than 1,500 locations. The company opened a store-spa flagship, Destination Maternity, on Madison Avenue in February of this year.

This story first appeared in the May 11, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

3. DORRIT J. BERN, CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, CHARMING SHOPPES INC.
Percent change: 94.4
Bern joined Charming Shoppes as chairman, president and ceo in August 1995. Prior to that, she served as vice president of women’s apparel and group vice president of women’s apparel and home furnishings for Sears, Roebuck & Co. Since arriving at Charming Shoppes, she and her team have seen the company’s revenues triple, from $1 billion in 1995 to $3 billion at the end of 2005. Bern has also turned Charming Shoppes into the leading women’s plus-size specialty apparel retailer, with approximately 40 percent market share, and the nation’s third-largest specialty retailer. Last March, Bern received the 2006 Paradigm Award, Philadelphia’s most prestigious award for businesswomen.

4. MARCY SYMS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, PRESIDENT, SYMS
Percent change: 55.9
Daughter of founder Sy Syms, Marcy Syms has been president of the company since 1983 and was named chief operating officer in 1984. She took the place of her father as ceo in January 1998. Syms, which offers an extensive selection of designer brands — including Anne Klein, Liz Claiborne and Calvin Klein — at affordable prices, operates 37 apparel stores. In April, the company announced that for the 52 weeks ended February 26, net income had increased 55 percent to $3.4 million.

5. CATHY E. PRYOR, VICE PRESIDENT, HIBBETT SPORTING GOODS INC.
Percent change: 52.7
Pryor began her tenure at Hibbett Sporting Goods in 1988, starting out as a district manager and becoming vice president of store operations in 1995. She has played an integral part in the success of the company, whose main target market is high school athletes and their teams. The company sells sporting equipment, footwear and apparel in more than 550 stores in 22 states. In March, the company reported that net sales for the 52-week period ended Jan. 28, 2006 increased 16.6 percent to $440.3 million, compared with $377.5 million for the same period a year prior.

6. KAY KRILL, PRESIDENT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ANN TAYLOR STORES INC.
Percent change: 51.1
Krill oversees the retailer’s three concepts: Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft and Ann Taylor Factory Stores. She’s been with the company since 1994, starting out as merchandising vice president of separates, suits, dresses and petites at Ann Taylor Stores. Last week, the company said the Ann Taylor division delivered its ninth consecutive month of positive comparable-store sales. Krill stated, “Our spring offering, with its focus on fashion and novelty, has been very well received. Dresses, skirts, gauchos, city shorts, jewelry and embellished product all exceeded expectation.”

7. E. BONNIE SCHAEFER, MARIA L. SCHAEFER, CO-CHAIRMEN, CO-CEOS, CLAIRE’S STORES INC.
Percent change: 43.7
The Schaefer sisters came to power in November 2002 after their father, Rowland, founder, president and ceo of Claire’s, suffered a mild stroke. Combining their talents, Marla deals mainly in merchandising and buying, while Bonnie is heavily involved with real estate and store operations. By 2004, profits had nearly doubled to $143 million and revenues were up 28 percent. They have reshaped the company, embarking on an international expansion plan and a restructuring of the struggling Afterthoughts into a more popular concept, Icing by Claire’s. The company currently operates approximately 2,900 stores in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, Claire’s operates 180 stores in Japan through its subsidiary, Claire’s Nippon, Co. Ltd. (as a joint venture) and licenses 100 stores in the Middle East, South Africa and Turkey under licensing and merchandising agreements.

8. SUSAN D. KRONICK, VICE CHAIR, FEDERATED DEPARTMENT STORES INC.
Percent change: 26.5
Kronick has worked her way through the Cincinnati-based retailer since joining the group in 1973 as an executive trainee at Bloomingdale’s. As vice chair, she is currently responsible for all the company’s department store divisions. Kronick was just one of two women (the other being Charming Shoppes’ Dorrit Bern) to place in WWD’s Top 20 rankings for retail executive compensation (which included salary and bonus) last July — her 2004 annual compensation package totaled $2.38 million.

9. LISA PANATTONI, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, ROSS STORES INC.
Percent change: 13.3
Panattoni joined Ross Stores in January 2005 from The TJX Cos., where she most recently served as senior vice president of merchandising and marketing for home goods since 1998. As senior vice president at Ross Stores, Panattoni is responsible for the retailer’s home businesses and reports directly to Michael Balmuth, its vice chairman, president and ceo. Last Thursday, Ross Stores reported sales of $422 million for the four weeks ended April 29, an 18 percent increase above the $357 million in sales for the four weeks ended April 30, 2005.

10. PATRICIA MURPHY KERSTEIN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, CHIEF MERCHANDISING OFFICER, CHICO’S FAS INC.
Percent change: -0.1
In her role, Pat Murphy Kerstein is responsible for Chico’s merchandise product development, along with buying, planning, allocation and distribution of merchandise. Murphy Kerstein has been with the company since September 1997 — she originally served as senior merchant and was promoted to her current position in January 2003. Last Thursday, Chico’s announced that April sales results for the four-week period increased 18.6 percent to $136 million. Scott A. Edmonds, president and ceo, said the “Chico’s brand should be able to deliver a mid-single-digit same-store sales increase for the balance of the year.”

Sources: original reporting by wwd; yahoo finance; stock price performance as of May 5, 2006; for each PubliC company, one female executive is represented with the exception of claire’s stores inc; ALL executives taken from wwd’s 2005 executive compensation report

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