By  on March 4, 2008

NEW YORK — Fortunoff, which is being purchased by NRDC Equity Partners, has ousted chief executive officer Arnold Orlick, sources said Monday.

"He told his employees that he's going," said a source close to the jewelry and home furnishings chain.

There is speculation that Charles Chinni, former executive vice president and general merchandise manager of J.C. Penney's home division, fine jewelry, women's accessories and family footwear, will come out of retirement to be the next ceo of the $439 million, 23-unit chain. Chinni was instrumental in launching the Chris Madden collection at Penney's in 2004, and previously had been a top home merchant at Macy's.

A limited number of additional management changes is expected soon at Fortunoff.

NRDC declined to comment and Orlick could not be reached. He joined Fortunoff in May 2006, when the chain was already experiencing difficulties, and is believed to have signed a three-year contract.

Fortunoff filed for Chapter 11 on Feb. 4, but is quickly being brought out of bankruptcy by NRDC, which is purchasing the chain for $80 million, plus another $30 million to cover debt, benefits and other obligations, in a deal expected to close Wednesday.

When a company enters bankruptcy and reorganizes under new ownership, all management contracts drawn up under the old ownership are wiped out and new contracts are assigned by the new owner.

NRDC, the parent of Lord & Taylor, plans to create Fortunoff leased jewelry shops and home shops with bridal registries in the 47 Lord & Taylor stores. The Fortunoff jewelry shops will replace the Finlay leased shops at L&T. NRDC also plans to spend $100 million to renovate Fortunoff stores and open more units.

Prior to Fortunoff, Orlick was president of the former Rich's/Lazarus/Goldsmith's division of Federated Department Stores Inc., now Macy's. He rose to chairman and ceo and left in July 2001. Previously, he was Bloomingdale's executive vice president and director of stores and the chain's executive vice president and gmm for home stores, cosmetics and restaurant operations.

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