NEW YORK — Rob Bernard, president and chief executive officer of The Limited Stores, resigned on Thursday, triggering a search for a new ceo of the division and other management changes.

Diane Holtz has been named president of The Limited Stores, managing the merchandising and design areas of the brand and taking over some of the responsibilities that Bernard held. Holtz and whoever becomes the new ceo will share responsibility for the marketing function.

It couldn’t be learned precisely what caused the management upheaval. However, there was speculation late Thursday that Holtz had been offered a job at another retailer and to woo her back, Limited promoted her. There was also some speculation that Bernard could be a candidate for a top job at another major specialty chain.

Among the possibilities is Gap Inc., which is searching for a ceo of its Gap Stores division, but that search was just recently initiated and it is expected to take a while to review several candidates.

However, there have been rumblings that other major specialty operations are seeking new talent, including J.Crew.

Prior to joining Limited about five years ago, Bernard was president of J.Crew. At one time, he was considered a rising star at Limited, originally running the former Cacique before being tapped for The Limited Stores.

Holtz joined The Limited Inc. two years ago as vice president of special projects for Limited Design Services, where she has been responsible for merchandising and product development for the women’s retail brands.

Prior to joining Limited, she was general merchandise manager and senior vice president at Ann Taylor. She also held positions as vice president, career and tops at Ann Taylor and divisional vice president at Bloomingdale’s.

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