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Wet Seal promotes 2 executives to reenergize struggling business

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The Wet Seal Inc. promoted two executives to help bring the company's struggling mall stores back to their fashion-forward roots.

The Foothill Ranch-based firm said Kim Bajrech is the senior vice president-general merchandising of apparel for the company’s flagship Wet Seal brand. Debbie Shinn joins her as senior vice president-general merchandising manager of accessories and ready-to-wear for the flagship brand. Previously the two women were vice president-divisional managers.

CEO John Goodman said in a statement that he believes he has the “right team in place” to help reenergize the Wet Seal business.

 “They have a deep understanding of the fast fashion market, they know the Wet Seal customer well and they are executing on all fronts as we return the business to its roots,” Goodman said.

Wet Seal Inc. operates 530 stores, with 468 locations under its flagship brand. The company reported a $85.8 million net loss in its fourth quarter, compared to a $1.1 million net gain a year ago.

Earlier this year, the company cut 35 jobs and two executives resigned, including its president.

One of the challenges for Wet Seal is competing against fast-fashion chain Forever 21, which are almost like mini-department stores, said Gabriella Santaniello, senior vice president of retail market research at securities firm Wedbush. Wet Seal's target customers are females 13 to 19 years old.

“It’s very difficult to compete with Forever 21, with the sheer volume that they do, and the pricing power that they have,” Santaniello told KPCC in an interview earlier this year.