August 30, 2010, 12:49 PM

Borders hires a chief merchandising officer

Michele Delahunty-Cloutier worked as brand president for Chico's FAS, Inc.

Ann Arbor, Mich., Aug. 24 -- Borders Group, Inc. today announced it has strengthened its executive leadership team with the appointment of Michele Delahunty-Cloutier as the company's new executive vice president, chief merchandising officer.

Delahunty-Cloutier has more than 22 years of merchandising experience with a heavy focus on female lifestyle brand building as well as repositioning and redefining the business of multi-billion-dollar specialty retail organizations. Her industry experience includes leadership and management of both start-up divisions as well as turn-around businesses that have produced positive sales growth and increased customer loyalty.

As CMO, Delahunty-Cloutier will oversee merchandising, marketing and supply chain, playing an integral role in helping Borders redefine its brand and drive a turnaround of the company. She will report to Borders CEO Mike Edwards.

"Michele has an exceptional track record of building dominant global brands," said Edwards. "She's a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work type of executive who is adept at effectively working with cross functional business teams to unite a company under one brand vision. I look forward to working closely with Michele to achieve our company's strategic goals and ultimately reposition the company for success."

Most recently Delahunty-Cloutier, 45, served as Brand President for Chico's FAS, Inc. where she was responsible for creating a cohesive brand while supervising merchandising, sales, marketing and store operations teams. Before being promoted to Brand President for Chico's, she served as the organization's Executive Vice President, Chief Merchandising Officer and Executive Vice President, General Merchandising Manager from 2006 through 2007.

Prior to joining Chico's, Delahunty-Cloutier served as an independent retail consultant from 2004 through 2006. Previous to that role, she was Senior Vice President, General Merchandise Manager for Ann Taylor Stores, where she was hired as part of the turnaround team to reposition the brand. Her direct responsibilities included the merchandising for Ann Taylor stores and merchandising and planning for the online business. Before joining Ann Taylor, Delahunty-Cloutier served in various merchandising leadership roles with The Gap, Inc. from 1993 through 2002, most notably Vice President, General Merchandise Manager, GAP Body and Divisional Merchandising Manager for Woman's Wovens for Banana Republic. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wells College in Aurora, N.Y.

Borders has also named two new regional vice presidents to lead its store teams. Eric Kovats is regional vice president for the Southeast region and Beatrice Vicente is regional vice president for the West Coast region. Both are responsible for managing district managers and store managers with the overall goal of creating and maintaining an outstanding customer shopping experience.  

Kovats has extensive retail experience, most recently serving as Regional Vice President, Stores for Heartland Automotive Services, Inc., the largest franchisee of Jiffy Lube Stores in the country. Prior to this role, he served for four years as Executive Vice President, Stores Organization for Friedman's Jewelers, Inc., where he was responsible for the overall operation of 481 stores with sales of $400 million. He earlier served as Regional Vice President for Jo-Ann Stores, and previous to that, served in a number of leadership roles with Service Merchandise Co., Inc. including Senior Vice President, Store Sales Organization.

Vicente, 51, is also a seasoned retailer. Prior to starting at Borders, Vicente served as Regional Vice President of Stores – Pacific Region for Toys "R" Us, Inc., where she was responsible for over 150 stores in 10 states that generated $1.3 billion in sales. Prior to this role, she was Group Director for Target Corporation where she oversaw six District Team Leaders and 52 stores with $3.0 billion in sales. Her previous roles include Senior Vice President/Director of Stores, Central Offices for Charlotte Russe and Senior Director of Financial and Store Operations for Banana Republic.

"Consistently providing an exceptional customer shopping experience is absolutely essential to rebuilding and maintaining the Borders brand," said Edwards. "As we work aggressively to make improvements in our in-store experience by introducing more non-book items, expanding key categories and improving our book assortment, it's critical to have leaders such as Eric and Beatrice in place to ensure these efforts are executed well across all stores."

About Borders Group, Inc.

Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP) is a leading specialty retailer of books as well as other educational and entertainment items. The company employs approximately 19,500 throughout the U.S., primarily in its Borders and Waldenbooks stores. Online shopping is offered through borders.com. Find author interviews and vibrant discussions of the products we and our customers are passionate about online at facebook.com/borders, twitter.com/borders and youtube.com/bordersmedia. For more information about the company, visit borders.com/media.

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