Limited Brands on Friday (15 June) appointed Diane Neal chief executive officer of its Bath and Body Works division and Bill May chief operating officer of Victoria's Secret Stores.

Neal, who had been president and chief operations officer of Bath and Body Works since joining the unit last November, succeeds Neil Fiske, who resigned from Limited Brands to join Eddie Bauer Holdings and president and CEO.

Neal was president of Mervyn's Stores from 2001 to 2004 before leaving to join Gap as senior vice president of merchandising. She later became president of Gap's outlet division.

May served as chief operating officer at Payless ShoeSource before resigning last month after just a month on the job. He'd earlier been executive VP and COO of Tween Brands, a Limited Brands spinoff, and, like Neal, had held executive posts at Gap.

Leslie Wexner, chairman and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based Limited Brands, called Neal "a strong leader with a merchant mindset and broad multi-store experience.

"She has broad and substantial retail and leadership skills. She has led system and process improvement initiatives for us and has shared our commitment to growth."

In describing May, Sharen Turney, president and CEO of Victoria's Secret, said: "He has established a record of successfully managing all aspects of operations, finance, marketing and sales, and stores. He is a results-oriented leader with a proven ability to lead business, technology and corporate culture change in highly competitive business environments."

With a stake in its Express specialty apparel unit already sold and the quest for strategic alternatives for its Limited Stores unit underway, Limited Brands is narrowing its portfolio to focus on intimate apparel and beauty.
By Arnold J Karr.