NEW YORK — New York and Company Inc., the 492-unit women’s sportswear retailer, has signed “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria as the face of its holiday ad campaign.

It is anticipated the 30-year-old actress will help the retailer as it carves out a more modern image for itself and rolls out about 50 new stores annually. Longoria was hired by Robert Luzzi, executive vice president and creative director of New York & Co., and a former creative director worldwide at Estée Lauder.

Longoria will be photographed this weekend by Patrick Demarchelier and styled by Freddie Leiba (clothing), Oribe (hair) and Sandy Litner (makeup). Ads will break in the December issues of Vogue, Marie Claire, In Style, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Shop Etc., O The Oprah Magazine, People, Latina and Lucky.

In April, Longoria signed on as a L’Oréal spokeswoman to represent its array of beauty and cosmetics brands worldwide. She bowed in May in a commercial for the Vive hair care brand.

On “Desperate Housewives,” Longoria plays Latin sexpot Gabrielle Solis, a former runway model, who’s married to Carlos but having an affair with the teenage gardener. In addition to her work on “Desperate Housewives,” Longoria will appear opposite Kiefer Sutherland, Kim Basinger and Michael Douglas in the film “The Sentinel,” which will be released next year.

New York & Co., which generates $1.04 billion in annual sales, began operations in 1918 as Lerner New York, but changed to its current name in 2000. In the last few years, the chain has shed its dowdy image for a more trendy one, targeting women ages 25 to 45 with annual household incomes of $40,000 to $75,000.

The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange last October at $17 a share. The stock closed Wednesday at $21.20, up 1.2 percent from Tuesday.

New York & Co. was owned by Limited Brands Inc. from 1985 to 2002, before its sale to Bear Stearns Merchant Capital II, which sold some of its shares in the IPO but retained 75.8 percent of the retailer’s outstanding common stock, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

This story first appeared in the August 11, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The retailer has been growing at a fast clip. In its first quarter ended April 30, New York & Co.’s earnings surged 65.3 percent to $21.5 million versus $13 million a year ago. Net revenues rose 7.1 percent to $270 million from $252.1 million last year. Same-store sales increased 3.9 percent. Among the standouts were casual apparel, activewear, denim, body shapers, jackets and accessories.

The New York-based company expects to open 45 to 50 stores this year, and 50 stores annually for the next few years. The goal is to have 800 stores and 100 factory outlets.

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