Ashley Stewart Names Celia Clancy President, C.E.O.

Ashley Stewart, a maker of plus-sized clothing for women, has named Celia Clancy as its president and chief executive. Clancy was previously president of AJ Wright, and also worked as a senior operations consultant at private equity firm Cerberus. Ashley Stewart is based in Secaucus, New Jersey. Buyout shop GB Merchant Partners acquired Ashley Stewart in late 2010. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Ashley Stewart announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed Celia Clancy as President and Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Clancy has more than 30 years of experience in retail and women’s apparel as a seasoned merchant and well-rounded executive, and she has demonstrated a consistent ability to drive both top and bottom-line results.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead Ashley Stewart, with its iconic brand in plus size fashion and deep heritage in the urban community,” said Ms. Clancy. “Alongside a remarkably deep and talented team, we are going to reinforce the brand’s leadership position in value-oriented plus size fashion, expand the retail footprint and develop new channels of growth, including e-commerce and potentially licensing. The Company has achieved positive comparable store sales and strong profitability despite a difficult macroeconomic environment. We have excess cash, an undrawn revolver and no third-party debt as we look to significantly accelerate our growth plans.”

“I am very excited to join the team at Ashley Stewart. From my days at both Wal-Mart and AJ Wright, I have always been a strong admirer of the store and the brand, and I have seen our incredibly loyal customer base respond positively to their stylish, well-priced offerings for work and weekend. Ashley Stewart makes its customers feel beautiful and confident. My first priority is to get to know the strong Ashley Stewart team and all of its partners in the vendor, real estate and financial communities. The company has tremendous growth potential, evidenced by the two new prototype stores recently opened in Brooklyn and Chicago. I am also impressed and gratified by the depth of financial support from GB Merchant Partners and their confidence in me to lead Ashley Stewart.”

“Celia is known for being a decisive leader and team builder. She is a seasoned merchant who has a deep understanding of the Ashley Stewart customer,” said James Rhee, Managing Director of GB Merchant Partners. “She is known for building high-performing teams and cultures and she has grown major retail brands by significantly improving the merchandise mix and in-store experience. She is extremely well qualified to grow Ashley Stewart and take the business to a new level.”

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we would also like to thank Laura Weil for her dedication and leadership during her tenure as CEO. Laura is resigning to focus on other pursuits, including consulting and her outside board memberships. Under her direction, Ashley Stewart has made significant strides in realizing its full potential. She played a critical role in setting Ashley Stewart on its new course. We look forward to continuing to work with Laura on other endeavors,” continued Rhee.

During her more than 30 years of experience in retail, Ms. Clancy played a key role in reinvigorating the apparel offering for several major retail brands. As President of AJ Wright, Ms. Clancy rebranded the business and transformed the culture through an intensive focus on its core customer. The company also opened many new stores, including a highly successful market in Atlanta. Ms. Clancy was responsible for the turnaround and ultimate achievement of record profits at AJ Wright.

Prior to AJ Wright, Ms. Clancy served as a Senior Operations Consultant at Cerberus, a private equity firm in New York, and from 1997-2005, she held senior merchandising positions at Wal-Mart.

About Ashley Stewart
Since the early 1990’s, Ashley Stewart has been styling customers and setting fashion trends for the plus-size fashion industry. The Ashley Stewart brand is truly an eclectic mix. It is fashion forward, sexy and inspirational. It provides the customer with head-to-toe outfits from trendy sportswear to lingerie to outerwear. Ashley Stewart dresses women from the bedroom to the boardroom. Fashion conscious plus-size urban women shop at Ashley Stewart to find the latest fashions that reflects their inner confidence.