Ascena Retail Group has named Eric Hunter as president of its Plus Fashion segment, which includes the Lane Bryant, Catherines and Cacique brands.

Hunter was most recently executive vice president of marketing for Pier 1 Imports, but also has experience as senior vice president and acting chief marketing officer for JCPenney Company where he led strategy, research, creative, media, customer relationship management and digital direction.

"After a comprehensive search process, we have found an outstanding individual to assume leadership of these iconic brands," said David Jaffe, chairman and CEO of the Ascena Retail Group.

"Eric has a track record of strong leadership, vision and strategy both inside and outside of retail that make him uniquely qualified to lead our Plus Fashion segment into the future."

The US women's wear retailer, whose brands also include Ann Taylor, Loft and Justice, operates around 4,800 stores.

Last month it posted a 54.2% drop in first quarter net income to US$6.6m as net sales fell 5.4% to $1.59bn, blaming "fashion missteps." And following the just-ended Holiday season it has reaffirmed it expects to post a second quarter loss per share after holiday sales results it described as "mixed." Total Ascena comparable sales in the period from 18 November to 1 January fell 3%.

The company is more than a year into its 'Change for Growth' programme that has seen its business restructured to focus on key customer segments, improve its time-to-market and reduce working capital, with the changes including a new brand services team to oversee supply chain, sourcing and logistics.

In August it named Gary Muto to the newly created position of president and CEO of Ascena Brands, responsible for reinvigorating and driving top-line growth across Ascena's full brand portfolio.

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