Laurie Van Brunt, Sheryl ClarkWWD 2012/2013 CEO Summit, New York

Chico’s is parting ways with Laurie Van Brunt, the president of its intimates brand Soma.

Van Brunt officially left the company March 31 after serving as president of Soma for almost seven years. According to Chico’s, she is retiring.

Since joining the company in 2010, she has overseen several years of sales growth. In its most recent financial disclosure, Soma came through as Chico’s best-performing brand.

While Van Brunt is said to be retiring, she will be receiving a severance payment equal to one year’s full salary and a prorated bonus payment. Under her employee contract with Chico’s, she is also prohibited from going to work for a competing business for one year.

Van Brunt’s compensation package could not be determined and Chico’s could not be reached immediately for comment.

Before joining Soma, Van Brunt spent five years with J.C. Penney Co. Inc., serving as marketing vice president, director of brand management and as a vice president over intimate apparel.

She has more than 35 years of retail experience, and has a history with specialty retail, including the likes of Chadwicks of Boston, Lane Bryant and Petite Sophisticate.

Although Soma has performed well over the last several years, Chico’s as a whole has been struggling along with so many other retailers and in February posted its sixth consecutive quarter of year-over-year sales declines.

The women’s specialty chain reported net income of $13.5 million on total net sales of $600.8 million for the fourth quarter, compared to a net loss of $21.1 million on total net sales of $631.6 million a year ago. Chico’s attributed the decline in sales partly to its sale of its Boston Proper business last year. Comparable-store sales slipped 2.5 percent for the quarter.

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