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As part of an ongoing apparel turnaround drive, Chico’s FAS on Wednesday announced the appointment of former Macy’s manager Nancy Johnson as senior vice president and general manager of merchandising and design for the Chico’s brand. Johnson will oversee the product, design and strategy, according to a company press release.
Chico’s also announced the appointment of Dimple Rao as Vice President of Product Management. Rao will oversee the architecture and design of the end-to-end customer experience.
Johnson will report directly to Molly Langenstein, CEO of Chico FAS, while Rao will report to Chief Digital Officer Jay Topper.
Chico’s is taking steps to strengthen its eponymous brand.
Sister company Soma has been gaining momentum and producing results for Chico’s largest FAS company for years, most recently showing a 65% sales increase year after year in the first trimester. The company has high hopes for the business, expecting it to be a billion dollar brand by 2025. However, sales of Chico and the White House black market have been largely slow compared to intimate society.
Chico may be building on Soma’s success. In February, the company began opening Soma boutiques in Chico stores and plans to have 47 of these concepts in place by mid-June, according to Langenstein.
Discussing first quarter results, Langenstein pointed out that style and quality efforts lead to faster sales rates in its apparel businesses, even after six years of decline in these areas. “In our two clothing brands, we have changed the style of the product to be more [appropriately] align with the customer. We embrace the culture of comfort and develop innovative fabrics and technology to deliver comfort features, making it easily pass from sweat to fabrics. We’re very encouraged by what we’re seeing, ”Langenstein said.
Chico’s new hires can play an important role in the clothing company’s turnaround efforts. Johnson has over 30 years of merchandising experience, most recently as executive vice president of Macy’s private labels leading All Women. There, she led “the highest growth years” by launching and revolving many department store private labels, according to the company.
Rao joins Chico’s de Spins where she was senior vice president. Rao was also previously vice president of product management, user experience and design for FTD’s consumer and floral business units. “Dimple has a proven track record of customer growth, revenue and digital adoption using product design and development, customer experience transformation and marketing,” Langenstein said.