Speciality clothing retailer Rue21 has named Bill Brand as CEO, taking over the reins from interim boss John Fleming.

Brand most recently served as president of entertainment and lifestyle retailer HSN and chief retail officer of Carnival Corporation & PLC, where he was recruited to lead the creation of a new retail arm for the global cruise company. He currently serves as vice-chair of the National Retail Federation Foundation.

“We chose Bill because of his impressive track record in building high-performance teams and his industry-recognised leadership abilities to modernise retail brands,” said Fleming, who will return as a board member. “Under his leadership, we will leverage Rue21’s recent growth by doubling down on omnichannel enhancements to create more compelling customer experiences.”

With nearly 700 stores in 45 states, Rue21 said store reopenings after pandemic closures outperformed year-over-year monthly sales. Most recently, the business is up double digits compared to the total apparel market down 12% in September.

“This pandemic proved that our brand promise has significant staying power,” said Scott Vogel, Rue21’s board chairman. “During one of the most tumultuous times in retail history, John brilliantly steered the brand to not only survive when myriad retailers liquidated, but thrive beyond our expectations.

“Now, Bill’s ability to build teams around understanding the customer at every touchpoint makes his appointment the next natural progression in accelerating Rue21’s transformation.”