Lewis, a former IPC and Emap director, takes the role of publishing director of Hachette's Red and B titles.
A key task for Lewis, who will report directly to Julie Harris, Hachette's general manager, women's group, will be to revive the fortunes of B. The magazine is in the process of appointing a new editor.
Lewis was previously the publishing director of IPC's women's titles including Marie Claire and Mizz. She led the team that launched the now-defunct title Nova in 2000. She left IPC last year to seek "fresh challenges".
Before joining IPC, Lewis spent three years at Flextech TV, where she was the launch managing director for Playboy TV and the head of brand development. She was also the managing director of Emap's women's group.
Red, which was launched in 1997 as part of Hachette's joint venture with Emap, is now wholly owned by Hachette. The publisher has promised to invest in the title, which has increased its year-on-year circulation by 3 per cent to 189,857.
Hachette bought B, targeted at women in their early 20s, as part of its takeover of Attic Futura. The title has struggled during the past year, with its circulation falling 15 per cent to 165,431.
Harris said: "Rita brings a wealth of experience and genuinely innovative thinking that will help us drive these titles even further forward in their highly competitive markets."
Hachette is thought to be considering launching some of its UK titles internationally. Red is one title that might be exported to the US and other markets.
In the UK, its ambitions for growth were signalled by the appointment of Tim Kirkman as the group sales director.