By  on May 3, 1994

NEW YORK -- Thomas P. Harville, an operations executive, has been promoted to chairman and chief executive officer of the Bon Marche division of Federated Department Stores.

Harville, 53, was president and chief operating officer of the Seattle-based Bon Marche. He succeeds Robert J. DiNicola, who became chairman and ceo of Zale Corp. on April 18.

Ira S. Pickell, 48, who was senior vice president and general merchandise manager for accessories, shoes, intimate apparel and cosmetics at Federated's Lazarus unit, succeeds Harville. The Bon posted $826.9 million in sales last year.

Traditionally, the top slots at retail chains have been held by merchants. However, as Federated continues to strengthen its Federated Merchandising team-buying organization, market observers expect more and more operations executives, such as Harville, to be tapped to head the divisions, while merchants play greater roles in the central office.

Federated Merchandising announced three appointments of its own Monday. Pickell will head up the shoe and accessories buying team, taking over for Russell Stravitz, chairman and ceo of the Rich's division in Atlanta, who assumes responsibility for Home Store merchandising. Matthew Serra, chairman of Stern's, based in Paramus, N.J., will head the intimate apparel team.

At The Bon, Harville was president and chief operating officer since August 1992, and before that, executive vice president of finance and operations. He joined the chain in 1977 as an assistant and held positions of increasing responsibility in control and operations. Before The Bon, he was vice president of planning and administration for Duty Free Shoppers in Hong Kong. Pickell started his career in 1968 as a trainee at Federated's Abraham & Straus division. He joined Macy's in 1974, holding store manager and divisional merchandise manager posts. He later joined the former Hahne's chain as a general merchandise manager, and was a Mervyn's general merchandise manager from 1985 to 1991, when he joined Lazarus.

Last month, it was reported that Federated was considering a lawsuit against Zale, a jewelry retailer, for hiring DiNicola but, so far, no litigation has been launched. DiNicola had a contract with Federated that would have expired in July 1995. Reportedly, Federated is arguing that DiNicola, by breaking his contract, cut Federated's chances for profit opportunities at The Bon due to the disruption in the chain of command. Sources speculated that an out-of-court settlement is more likely than a suit.Last year, Federated sued Macy's for recruiting Roger N. Farah as its president and chief operating officer, and won a settlement. Farah, former chairman and ceo of Federated Merchandising, is scheduled to join Macy's in July.

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