ANN TAYLOR NAMES HOLTZ SENIOR VP, GMM

NEW YORK — Bolstering a merchandising organization that has had erratic performance this year, Ann Taylor on Tuesday named Diane Holtz senior vice president and general merchandise manager.
Holtz, who will begin her job on Nov. 3, will report to Patricia DeRosa, president of Ann Taylor. DeRosa has been acting as gmm since mid-January, when Gayle Wyroba resigned to pursue other interests.
Holtz has been vice president and divisional merchandise manager for Sutton Sportswear and Studio B at Bloomingdale’s.
She previously held divisional merchandise manager positions at Lerner New York and Ann Taylor.
“Diane Holtz’s wealth of experience in women’s apparel will solidify our merchandising organization and accelerate execution of the business discipline we have been bringing to our merchandising process,” DeRosa said in a statement. “Her in-depth knowledge of the Ann Taylor brand will drive focused seasonal collections that reflect our customers’ fashion preferences.”
Ann Taylor began showing signs of improvement after a new management team was installed last year. More recently, its business has sagged. Same-store sales declined 22.1 percent in August and 13.9 percent in September. Some analysts contend that the 320-unit chain has not found a consistent merchandise approach.
One of the chain’s shortcomings, according to analysts, has been the inability to strike the proper balance between items and career outfits. By focusing so strongly on full ensembles, the company lost out on the item-driven back-to-school customer, said Jennifer Black Groves, a retail analyst at Black & Co. Ann Taylor also overlooked skirts, offering few styles for fall, Groves said.
The company, however, has been successful in increasing margins through more full-price sales. But the move to sell more at full price may have had the effect of lowering comps, analysts said.

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