Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — Upscale e-tailer has appointed Cheryl Holland vice president of merchandising, a newly created post at the firm, which signals the growing importance of melding merchandise expertise with user-friendly technology on the Web.
Holland has joined from Halls Merchandising, a high-end specialty chain, where she was vice president and merchandising manager, and developed its merchandising plan for couture, ready-to-wear, fine jewelry, accessories, shoes and cosmetics.
“The chief financial officer was handling the role before, but the business has exploded so fast, the company realized it needed someone from the fashion trade with a merchandising background,” Holland said Tuesday.
Holland brings more than 30 years of merchant experience to her new position.
Prior to Halls Merchandising, Holland was responsible for the fashion direction for the former BATUS stores group, which included Saks Fifth Avenue and Marshall Field’s. Before BATUS, she established the fashion merchandising department at Federated Department Stores’s former Sanger-Harris unit, where she drove the chain’s private label program. Holland has also served as vice president of fashion merchandising and product development at Federated’s Rich’s division in Atlanta.
“Cheryl’s knowledge of buying patterns, excellent relationships with leading brands, and immense experience in the retail industry will help us optimize our product selection for our customers,” said Kenny Kurtzman, chief executive officer of, in a statement. “She will be instrumental in the company’s drive toward profitability, as she has the talent and expertise to create merchandising strategies that increase margins across all categories.”
Holland said Tuesday that her priorities at Ashford are: “assessing the 13 categories we carry; working with the brands at to build their presence on the site; looking to add brands where we need to in jewelry and accessories — particularly scarves, handbags, bridge jewelry and fine jewelry — and working hard to enhance our diamond business.”
Her broader vision for the two-year-old site, she said, is “to keep our merchandise offer focused on the customer. But the challenge,” she added, “is not seeing the customer every day, like you do on the sales floor.”
“It was not an easy decision,” Holland said of her leap into e-tailing after a career in traditional retail. “I realized from my own experience online and what I’ve seen in the media that luxury e-commerce was gaining momentum. And I was impressed by Ashford’s management team and business plan. For those reasons, I wanted to join in.”

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