Charming Shoppes announces cutbacks

Multichannel specialty apparel retailer Charming Shoppes Inc. has eliminated 200 full-time positions and plans to decrease spending in response to the weak retail and economic environment.

The moves follow cutbacks announced in November that included decreases in inventory levels, reductions of capital expenditures and relocating its Memphis, TN, operations.

The two sets of initiatives taken together are expected to help the company sharpen its “focus on our core businesses,” said Dorrit J. Bern, chairman and CEO/president of Charming Shoppes, in a statement.

Charming Shoppes operates over 2,400 stores under the names Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes and Petite Sophisticate Outlet. The company’s Crosstown Traders division operates catalogs such as Lane Bryant Woman, Old Pueblo Traders, Lew Magram and Monterey Bay Clothing Company.

The personnel cutbacks include the elimination of approximately 150, or 13%, of corporate and field management positions. Plus, the company has announced it will relocate its Catherines operations to its headquarters in Bensalem, PA, resulting in further reductions for an aggregate of approximately 200 full-time positions.

The company will also reduce its capital budget by more than $40 million for fiscal year 2009, representing a 30% decrease from 2008, through a significant reduction in the number of planned store openings. Charming Shoppes will also close approximately 150 stores and close the Petite Sophisticate full line retail concept.

The company also announced that Joseph M. Baron, EVP and CEO, has assumed leadership of the company’s Bensalem-based retail businesses on an interim basis, following the departure of Diane M. Paccione, who left the company to assume the position of CEO at Deb Shops, Inc.

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