Ellis begins on Nov. 1, and reports to Shelley Broader, president and chief executive officer of the company.
Ellis joins Chico’s from The Limited, where she was ceo and drove the retailer’s business transformation over the last three years. Before The Limited, Ellis was president and chief operating officer at Brooks Brothers. Before joining Brooks Brothers, Ellis was the founding partner of Lighthouse Retail Group, and had been managing director for the retail strategy practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ellis is also a Stage Stores Inc. board member.
Broader said, “Diane is a seasoned leader who has proven time and again that she is one of the most strategic business and brand builders in retail. She brings merchandising, marketing and operational expertise as well as a strong passion for our customers.”
Ellis said of Chico’s, “The company has made great strides with its strategic initiatives, and as the retail landscape and customer behavior evolve, I’m excited to lead and support the team as we continue to strengthen Chico’s brand position and find new ways to innovate and delight our customers.”
Broader joined the company nearly a year ago, on Dec. 1, 2015. One of the strategic initiatives under her tenure was the change in April where the decision makers are now directly within the retailer’s three brands: Chico’s, White House|Black Market and Soma. That move was part of the company’s decision to decentralize its marketing functions, a strategy that the retailer said would allow it to achieve $14 million in annualized cost savings.
At a company presentation to analysts last week, chief financial officer Todd Vogensen said the Chico’s brand targets the consumer that is age 45 and up. Broader noted that 90 percent of the chain’s transactions last year were from its existing customer base, reflecting a very loyal consumer. She also said the company plans to roll out iPads for store associates equipped with the ability to tailor the visit to match the customer’s virtual closet. That would allow the sales team to look at purchases over the prior 12 to 18 months and make suggestions on what new items to add to the customer’s closet. Taking the virtual closet one step further, the company anticipates the iPad capability to also virtually show what a new top would look like when matched with a pair of bottoms previously purchased.