Gilt’s Flash Hunt: New Chief for IPO

Online luxury retailer Gilt Groupe Inc. quietly launched a search for a new chief executive to replace co-founder Kevin Ryan as its strives to shore up its financial performance to support a possible initial public offering.

The search comes as Mr. Ryan’s aggressive plan to expand the five-year-old Internet darling into new business lines has stumbled. The members-only site grew quickly in the wake of the recession by selling women’s luxury gear at a discount, and that strong buzz helped it land a valuation of $1 billion when it raised money last year. But Gilt had less success branching into full-priced menswear, local services and food.

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