Rob Bernard, president and chief executive of Limited Stores has resigned, and a search for his replacement is now underway, The Limited Inc said yesterday.

Rob Bernard was head of Limited Stores since 1997, joining the company in 1996 as president and chief executive of the now-closed Cacique lingerie chain.

Diane Holtz, who joined the Limited two years ago, has been promoted as president of the 381 Limited Stores and will manage the merchandising and design areas for the stores.

Holtz came to the Limited as vice president of special projects for Limited Design Services, where she has been responsible for merchandising and product development for women's retail brands. Before this, she was an executive at apparel chain AnnTaylor Stores Corp.

Holtz and the new chief executive will share responsibility for marketing.

The Limited operates 2,046 stores under the names of Express, Lerner New York, Limited Stores, Structure and Hendri Bendel. It also owns 84 per cent of Intimate Brands, which has 2,619 stores under the names of Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works and White Barn Candle Co.