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Wood, Rich to Retire from Brown Shoe

The executives will remain on board until early 2010.

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The new year will bring a number of changes to Brown Shoe’s senior management team.

The St. Louis-based company said late Tuesday that Gary Rich, president of wholesale for the Brown St. Louis division, and Joe Wood, president of retail and Famous Footwear, would plan to retire in 2010.

Both execs will remain with the company until early next year to ensure a smooth transition.

“Gary’s and Joe’s leadership, innovation, bold moves and passion for the customer have been instrumental in driving growth at Brown Shoe,” Brown Shoe Chairman and CEO Ron Fromm said in a statement. “Their countless contributions have set the cornerstone for building the future of this company, and I thank them for their dedication. Brown Shoe’s philosophy on seeking out and developing top talent ensures we have the right people within the company to manage through this change while retaining our consumer focus.”

As a result of the departures, Rick Ausick, currently president of Brown Shoe’s New York division, will assume the role of division president of Famous Footwear.

Mark Lardie will take over as division president of wholesale, with responsibility for Naturalizer, Dr. Scholl’s and LifeStride, as well as the company’s specialty retail stores. Lardie was most recently SVP and GMM.

In another wholesale president appointment, Dan Friedman will assume the role of division president of wholesale, product and sourcing, with oversight for women’s specialty, children’s and celebrity artist brands, including Carlos by Carlos Santana and Fergie. Friedman was most recently SVP of product development and sourcing.

Separately, the company released preliminary results for the third quarter on Tuesday, which are higher than analysts’ estimates.

Brown expects third-quarter net earnings per share in the range of 36 cents to 37 cents. Excluding charges of 4 cents a share related to information technology initiatives, the company expects to report earnings of 40 to 41 cents a share.

Analysts polled on Yahoo Finance had predicted earnings of 30 cents a share. 

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