LNT Pares Merchant Team

Clifton, N.J. — Reorganization at Linens 'n Things swept aside some senior merchants last week.

Among those let go were Loretta Groller, who had been promoted to senior vp only three months ago, HTT has learned. Also heading out the door were Paula Paquette, who joined the company in spring 2003 as vp, gmm of decorative housewares, and Pat Dove, gmm of decorative home.

These are just the latest in a string of changes since the acquisition of the $2.7 billion, 549-store retailer by Apollo Capital. In spring, LNT brought on board Robert Homler, now evp of merchandising, and Michael Larkey, svp of marketing. Both report to Bob DiNicola, an Apollo partner who earlier this year became LNT's chairman and ceo.

DiNicola suggested changes were ahead in recent weeks when the company announced its earnings for the first quarter.

“During the second quarter, we have begun to lay the groundwork for a repositioning of the organization that will continue through the rest of the year,” he said in a written statement that accompanied earnings figures.

The plan: drive sales productivity by emphasizing best sellers and paring slower turning product from the inventory. LNT began editing assortments earlier this year, recording a one-time inventory reserve during the first quarter of $10.3 million to hasten markdowns on merchandise targeted for elimination.

For the quarter ended April 1, LNT reported a net loss of $65.5 million compared to a net loss of $4.1 million in the first quarter of 2005. Sales rose 3.8% to $592.8, driven primarily by new store openings, which offset a comp decline of 3.7%. DiNicola said the company is optimistic about the upcoming Back to School and holiday seasons.

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