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Going to the Inside Man: Neiman’s James Gold

The Neiman Marcus Group named James Gold, a relative unknown, to be president and chief executive officer of Bergdorf Goodman.

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The statement further read that Neiman Marcus Stores will announce Gold’s successor shortly.

Gold succeeds Ron Frasch, who joined Saks Inc. four months ago in a position involving private label and international development. Frasch’s role so far at Saks has been limited due to non-compete restrictions that were in his Bergdorf’s contract, but his duties are expected to change over time.

Frasch also functioned as the lead women’s merchant during his nearly four-year tenure at Bergdorf’s. And while retail sources describe Gold as smart, confident and a good business operator, it’s likely that he’ll seek a new women’s merchant. In addition to operating without a women’s gmm, Bergdorf’s is seeking a senior marketing executive since the departure of Michael Calman earlier this year.

Though few additional Bergdorf’s personnel changes are expected, Gold declined to comment Monday on any that might occur, including hiring a women’s merchant. “It’s premature to say. It’s my first day. The team in place has done a remarkable job,” Gold told WWD.

“I’m lucky to assume responsibility for an extraordinary business that’s in great shape,” he added. “The trend is very strong and we have great people working here. The team in place deserves tremendous credit for shaping Bergdorf Goodman into the success that it is today.”

“He’s got two big learning curves,” said a fashion executive, who requested anonymity. “He’s got to develop a fashion sense for Bergdorf’s and learn the business, which is very different from Neiman’s. Also, there’s a huge leap in responsibility from being a gmm to being a ceo. When you are a gmm, you run the product side of the business. You are not integrating all the aspects of a business, like people development, and developing a broad vision for the entire company.”

However, as one human resource executive noted, being ceo of Bergdorf’s is not like any other retail ceo. “It’s a plum job,” the executive said. “It’s primarily about being a merchant. You don’t have finance, accounting, or a fleet of stores to worry about.” Many of the back-office functions at Bergdorf Goodman have long been centralized into Neiman Marcus Group operations, based in Dallas.
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