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Christopher & Banks CEO out amid disappointing sales


Christopher & Banks Corp. on Tuesday announced the departure of its CEO, effective January 17, 2017, and also lowered its fourth quarter guidance after a dismal holiday season.

The women’s apparel retailer said LuAnn Via, president and CEO, has departed the company. Also out: board chairwoman Lisa Wardell.

Via, hired as CEO in November 2012, has been replaced by Joel Waller, who was appointed as interim president, CEO and a member of the board. The retailer plans to engage a national search firm to help it find a permanent chief executive.

Waller served in a similar capacity for Christopher & Banks several years ago, prior to Via’s appointment. He has an extensive retail background with over 35 years of industry experience as both an executive and more recently as a consultant. He served as the CEO of The Wet Seal, from 2005 to 2008, and prior to that as CEO of Wilsons Leather.

Via’s departure comes on the heels of a disappointing holiday season for the retailer. On Tuesday, the company lowered its guidance for the fourth quarter, blaming lower traffic, softness in the women's apparel market and the weather. The most significant declines came in the last two full weekends before Christmas when sales fell about $4.5 million, the company said.

In addition, the company announced that Kent Kleeberger has been elected as board chairman.

“We thank LuAnn for her service and contributions as president and CEO during these challenging times, and wish her well in her future endeavors," Kleeberger said in a statement. "LuAnn has laid an excellent foundation for future growth and was instrumental in upgrading our assortments, talent, technology and e-commerce platforms."

As of January 17, 2017, Christopher & Banks operated 499 stores nationwide.
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