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Charming Shoppes to Close 150 Stores, Cut Jobs

Diane Paccione leaves firm to take reins at Deb Shops; Petite Sophisticate brand to close.

Charming Shoppes Inc. said Tuesday that it will close about 150 stores and reduce payrolls by an estimated 150 corporate and management positions.

The reorganization comes as Diane Paccione leaves to become chief executive officer of Deb Shops Inc., which is owned by Lee Equity Partners LLC.

Charming Shoppes' executive vice president and chief operating officer Joseph Baron will lead the company's 2,453 stores on an interim basis, taking over from Paccione, who had been group divisional president of the firm's retail operations.

The Bensalem, Pa.-based retailer expects the cuts, which include the scuttling of the Petite Sophisticate full-line concept, will generate about $20 million in annualized pre-tax savings, but lead to a one-time pre-tax charge of about $17.3 million.

About two-thirds of the store closures will be in the firm's Fashion Bug chain. Charming Shoppes also operates the Lane Bryant and Catherines Plus Sizes chains.

Lee Equity bought Deb Shops in July for $395 million.

For more, see Wednesday's issue of WWD.

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