Byline: Vicki M. Young

NEW YORK — Andrea Weiss on Wednesday resigned her post as chief stores officer at The Limited Inc. to pursue other opportunities.
Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and chief executive, said Wednesday in a statement: “She has made tremendous contributions to this organization and while we will miss her, we wish her much success in her new endeavors.”
Dana E. Cohen, an analyst at Banc of America Securities, said: “It is definitely a loss for The Limited. Weiss was well-liked, she did a good job. From The Limited’s perspective, she brought in a lot of talent with good people in all divisions.”
Janet Joseph Kloppenburg, an analyst at Robertson Stephens, said: “She’s very talented. She’s a very driven, ambitious director of stores. I consider it quite a loss for The Limited. I’m sure she’ll get placed very well in the future.”
Weiss joined the company in May 1998 as executive vice president and chief stores officer. She previously had held posts as president of Guess Retail and senior vice president and director of stores at Ann Taylor.
According to Wexner, “Andrea has been instrumental in attracting talent to the business and in elevating awareness around our Must Win Stores strategy.”
Dorothy Lakner, an analyst at CIBC World Markets Inc., explained that the strategy was The Limited’s program in which it looked at the real estate and determined which stores really have to do well. “The focus was on concentrating on store operations in [just] those particular stores as opposed to looking at a chain or company with thousands of stores and thinking about what do we have to do everywhere,” she said.
According to Lakner, the program appeared to have had a very positive effect on Limited’s business up until the fourth quarter, when the retailer was affected by the promotional retail environment.
Jeffrey Feiner, an analyst at Lehman Brothers Inc., wrote in a research note Wednesday: “Although we do not diminish the near-term issues related to finding a successor to Ms. Weiss, we would note that the stores organization she built over that last two years is intact and staffed with several capable candidates.”
Those candidates include Steve Hanon, vice president and chief financial officer of store finance and operations; Mark Giresi, vice president of store operations; and Theo Killon, vice president of human resources for store operations.
Feiner added in his note: “In addition, the stores organization is supported by key executives at each brand, many of whom were hired by Ms. Weiss, which further underscores our belief that The Limited will continue to focus on its strategy to increase sales in its top 140 markets.”
According to Cohen, “the company is in the process of regrouping. The time is right for it to reassess what is their next step.”
Although there was no immediate word on Weiss’s plans, the bidding for her services is likely to be energetic, especially in light of recent retail fallout. The past week alone has seen the departures of Patricia DeRosa as president of Ann Taylor, Larry Kelley as president of One Price Clothing, John Watson as ceo of Sunglass Hut; and, within The Limited, Peter Whitford as ceo of Structure.

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