rue21 Creates Chief Customer Officer Role

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rue21 Creates Chief Customer Officer Role

rue21 CFO Keith McDonough has been appointed as interim CEO, succeeding Bob Fisch. McDonough will serve in this interim role as the Board of Directors conducts a search for a new CEO. McDonough, who has served as the CFO of rue21 for 13 years, has more than three decades of senior leadership experience in the retail industry.

The company also announced the appointments of Nina Barjesteh as chief merchandising officer and Elizabeth Hodges as chief customer officer. Barjesteh, who has more than 20 years of experience in the retail and fashion industry, joins rue21 from Target, where she served as the vice president, general merchandise manager of the women's apparel division. She will be responsible for all of rue21's merchandising initiatives. Barjesteh succeeds Kim Reynolds as general merchandise manager.

As chief customer officer, a new position for rue21, Hodges will bring to bear extensive experience and leadership skills in overseeing the company's brand marketing and advertising initiatives. She joins rue21 from Chico's FAS, where she spent nine years, most recently as senior vice president of customer experience. Hodges previously held leadership positions with J. C. Penney, American Eagle and Lane Bryant.

McDonough said, "We thank Bob Fisch and Kim Reynolds for their 15 years of collaboration and passion in building rue21 into a leading teen specialty apparel retailer. We are very excited to have Nina Barjesteh and Liz Hodges join the rue21 leadership team. They both will play key roles as we further position our business for long-term growth."

rue21 operates 1,213 stores in 48 states. The company will open approximately 40 new stores and upgrade 100 existing stores in fiscal 2016 as it continues to grow sales both in its stores and online, where e-commerce sales grew 90 percent in the first six months of the current fiscal year. Rue21 also is launching several new, customer-focused initiatives in fiscal 2016, such as ship-to-store and CRM.

McDonough said, "We continue to execute on the strategic initiatives we set out for 2016 and the longer-term, including strengthening our brand, our merchandise assortments and our omnichannel capabilities, in addition to increasing our square footage. Our strong management team, comprised of tenured retail executives with deep experience in all aspects of our business, complemented by the addition of Nina and Liz, is well positioned to take rue21 to the next level of growth."

Barjesteh said, "I am excited to join rue21 and help position the company for future growth by developing the rue21 brand and expanding our omni-channel offering. Having recently opened its 1,200th store, and distinguished by its growing online presence, rue21 has exciting opportunities ahead."