As part of a continued apparel turnaround effort, Chico's FAS on Wednesday announced the appointment of former Macy's executive Nancy Johnson as senior vice president and general merchandise manager of merchandising and design for the Chico's brand. Johnson will oversee product, design and strategy, according to a company press release.
Chico's also announced the appointment of Dimple Rao as the vice president of product management. Rao will oversee architecting and designing the end-to-end customer experience.
Johnson will report directly to Chico's FAS CEO Molly Langenstein, while Rao will report to Chief Digital Officer Jay Topper.
Chico's is making moves to strengthen its namesake brand.
Sister company Soma has been gaining speed and delivering results for the larger Chico's FAS company for years, most recently posting a 65% sales increase year over year in the first quarter. The company has high hopes for the company, expecting it to be a $1 billion brand by 2025. Chico's and White House Black Market sales, however, have largely been sluggish compared to the intimates company.
Chico's may be in the middle of leveraging Soma's success, though. In February, the company started opening Soma shop-in-shops inside Chico's stores, and plans to have 47 of those concepts in place by mid-June, according to Langenstein.
In discussing first quarter results, Langenstein stressed that efforts involving styling and quality are leading to faster sell-through rates at its apparel companies, even after six years of decline in those areas. "In both our apparel brands, we've changed the styling of the product to more [appropriately] align with the customer. We embrace the comfort culture and develop innovative fabrics and technology to provide comfort features, shifting her from sweat to fabrics with ease. We are very encouraged by what we are seeing," Langenstein said.
Chico's new hires may play a significant part in the company's apparel turnaround efforts. Johnson has over 30 years of merchandising experience, most recently serving as Macy's executive vice president of private brands leading all of women's. There, she led "the highest years of growth" by launching and turning around many of the department store's private labels, according to the company.
Rao is joining Chico's from Spins where she was the senior vice president. Rao also previously served as the vice president of product management, UX and design for both the consumer and floral business units at FTD. "Dimple has a proven track record of driving customer growth, revenue and digital adoption using product design and development, customer experience transformation and marketing," Langenstein said.