Rue21 replaces CEO

Image: Nicholas Eckhart / CC BY 2.0

Teen retailer rue21 is the latest chain to announce a sudden executive departure, as Bob Fisch takes leave just before the holiday season after 15 years with the retailer. 

CFO Keith McDonough will serve as interim CEO until a replacement is found for that position. No reason was given for Fisch's departure. 

Also, Kim Reynolds is out as general merchandise manager, replaced by Nina Barjesteh, a former Target executive who will now serve as chief merchandising officer. Elizabeth Hodges has been named chief customer officer, a newly created position at rue21. Hodges joins the company from Chicos FAS, where she was most recently senior VP of customer experience.

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"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," McDonough said in a statement. "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 the United States and plans to add 40 units and remodel 100 more locations this fiscal year. 

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Like many of its teen-oriented cohorts, the privately held retailer has been slow to adapt to changing shopping trends among its core demographic. It was recently named by Fitch Ratings as at risk of defaulting within the next year as sales continue to shift online.

"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," said McDonough. "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."

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