Justice, the 1,000-unit tween division of Ascena Retail Group Inc., has named Brian Lynch president.
Lynch, formerly president of Ann Taylor at Ann Inc., will be challenged to reverse the declining sales trends at Justice. Markdowns and a sales decline at Justice were at the root of Ascena’s 73 percent drop in net earnings for the quarter ended Jan. 24.
“Justice is still a great brand that resonates with our customer, the tween girl. But we’ve had some merchandising and marketing challenges that have led to disappointing results,” David Jaffe, Ascena’s president and chief executive officer, told WWD. “There was a little too much inventory and discounts were too heavy. We are looking forward to Brian coming in and helping to reposition the brand and take it to greater levels of performance. He’s got a very strong team below him. We just needed that leadership spark.”
Lynch left the Ann Taylor brand last year amid a streamlining. Before Ann Inc., Lynch held executive positions at Gap Inc., Learning Smith Inc. and The Walt Disney Co. At Justice, he succeeds Michael Rayden.
Earlier this year, Jaffe said Ascena would close its Brothers tween boys’ brand sold online and in more than a fifth of its Justice tween girls’ stores. “At this point in its evolution, it is appropriate for Justice to focus on its core girls’ business, including refinement of its merchandise assortment and overall marketing strategy,” Jaffe said at the time.
“It’s an important transitional time for Justice and I look forward to joining a group that is poised to continue as an innovative leader in the fashion industry,” Lynch said.
The $5 billion Ascena also operates Dress Barn, Lane Bryant, Maurices, Cacique and Catherines. Brothers represented less than 1 percent of total Ascena revenues and was operating at a loss.