Linda Heasley, president and chief executive officer of the Lane Bryant and Catherines plus size chains, has resigned to join another company.

Heasley resigned last Wednesday, apparently taking the company by surprise. Ascena Retail Group, the parent company of Lane Bryant and Catherines, has commenced a search for Heasley’s successor and is said to be working with Herbert Mines Associates.

“Linda Heasley has resigned her position as CEO of the plus fashion segment,” David Jaffe, chief executive officer of Ascena, told WWD. “We announced this internally and at our investors’ day last week.” Ascena’s plus fashion segment includes Lane Bryant and Catherines.

“The leadership team across the plus fashion segment is strong and I’m confident that we will maintain the momentum that Linda has created until her replacement is named,” said Jaffe.

Heasley could not be reached for comment Monday.

Heasley joined the $1 billion Lane Bryant in February 2013 and had been working to elevate the fashion and image of Lane Bryant, double its revenues and transform perceptions about the plus size business. Her strategies included getting designers such as Isabel Toledo, Lela Rose, Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung and Sophie Theallet to design limited-edition collections and to launched provocative marketing, such as the successful “I’m No Angel” campaign, encouraging women to feel confident, regardless of their size. Last fall, she was also put in charge of Catherines, as part of a restructuring at Ascena that involved forming the plus fashion and other segments.
“We are trying to say it’s not all about size,” Heasley once told WWD. “It’s all about great design, and then we bring in our expertise in fit and fabrications and interpretations.”

Prior to joining Lane Bryant, Heasley ran The Limited, where she revamped product lines and introduced new brand positioning. After Heasley left the chain, it started to falter and this month shut down all of its stores. Earlier in her career, she held senior-level roles at Timberland, Limited Brands and CVS.

Heasley’s departure from Lane Bryant was reported late Monday by The Post.

Ascena, which had a tough holiday season, also operates Dressbarn, Loft, Ann Taylor, Maurices, Lou & Grey and Justice. Lane Bryant’s comp-stores sales fell 5.1 percent while Catherines’ comp-store sales rose 1.6 percent.

Ascena’s same-stores sales declined 3.1 percent during the holiday season.