By  on December 2, 2008

Stein Mart Inc. has tapped former Belk Inc. executive David H. Stovall Jr. as its new president and chief executive officer.

Stovall, 61, will take over the reins of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based retailer on Friday, succeeding Linda Farthing, a longtime director at the company who stepped up as president and ceo in September 2007 upon the departure of Michael Fisher and said in October she planned to vacate the corner office.

Most recently, Stovall was chairman of Belk’s central division.

“David has a solid history of executive management over both store operations and merchandise, and most recently oversaw the integration of Belk’s two largest acquisitions,” said Jay Stein, chairman of Stein Mart. “With his leadership, we will build on the initiatives begun during the past year to help transform Stein Mart into the revitalized company that our customers and our stockholders are eager to see us become.”

Belk acquired Proffitt’s and McRae’s from Saks Inc. in 2005 and Saks’ Parisian division in 2006.

In the nine months ended Nov. 1, Stein Mart incurred net losses of $15.1 million, or 37 cents a diluted share, as sales slid 7.5 percent to $962.6 million. Same-store sales contracted 10.5 percent. The company operated 279 stores at the end of the third quarter.

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