Chico’s FAS exec takes top role at Rue21

Changes are afoot at teen apparel retailer Rue 21, which has appointed a new CEO, along with a new chief marketing office and CFO.

The teen apparel retailer named Laurie Van Brunt as president and CEO, effective June 25, 2018. She succeeds Michael C. Appel who was named interim chief executive in October 2017. (He will continue to serve as chairman.) Her appointment follows a search that the company initiated when it exited bankruptcy in September.

Van Brunt joins the 752-store Rue 21 from Chico's FAS, where she was president of Soma Intimates from 2010 to 2017, during which time sales grew from $87 million to $350 million

Prior to Chico's, Van Brunt was corporate VP, director of private brand management at J. C. Penney Company, from 2005 to 2010, where she managed the company's private brand portfolio of 22 brands across all merchandise categories. Earlier in her career, she served in senior management roles at Chadwick's of Boston, and the Lane Bryant division of The Limited.

In other appointments, Rue 21 named Stephen Sommers as senior VP and chief marketing officer. Most recently, Sommers was chief marketing officer at Vineyard Vines. Prior to Vineyard Vines, he was VP global brand marketing from 2012 to 2016.

Also, Rue21 selected Michele Pascoe as senior VP and CFO, succeeding Stephen Coulombe who was named interim finance head in March 2018.

Pascoe joins rue21 from Alvarez & Marsal, a financial consulting firm. Prior to Alvarez and Marsal, from 2013-2017, Pascoe was chief administration officer and CFO of privately held grocery chain Marsh Supermarkets. From 2009 to 2013, Pascoe was senior VP and CFO of Charming Shoppes/ Fashion Bug division.

“With our increased financing in place, Laurie's leadership, our new senior team, and the utilization of innovative data analytics to drive our business, we are confident that rue21 will be an even stronger brand that delivers outstanding growth and profit,” said Rue21 chairman Apple.