By  on June 16, 1994

NEW YORK -- Arnold H. Aronson, whose 35-year career took him to the helm of four major retail operations, has become a partner and co-manager at Walter K. Levy & Robert E. Kerson Associates, the executive search and consulting firm.

On Monday, the firm hung out a new shingle: Levy, Kerson, Aronson & Associates.

Aronson will work with Levy on management consulting projects, while Kerson continues to head the executive search practice.

Levy said Tuesday that Aronson was brought into the firm because its client base has expanded beyond specialty and department stores to include investment bankers and venture capital and communications firms with retail-related activities.

Aronson and Levy became friends when they were buyers at Bloomingdale's in the late Fifties.

In 1969, Aronson became an executive vice president and general merchandise manager at May Co., California, before moving to Bullock's.

Aronson's ceo slots included Bullock's from 1977 to 1979; Saks Fifth Avenue from 1979 to 1983; Batus Retail Group from 1983 to 1986, and Woodward & Lothrop from 1989 through 1993.

In 1987 he formed an investment firm, which led to his purchase of an equity position in Woodward & Lothrop and his appointment as the chain's ceo.

He has a reputation for spotting talent. While running Saks, he recruited Arthur Martinez from RCA's record division to become the store's chief financial officer. Martinez is now ceo of Sears Merchandise Group.

Aronson tapped Philip Miller, then president of Neiman Marcus, as ceo of Marshall Field's, then part of Batus. Miller is now ceo of Saks Fifth Avenue. Aronson also recruited Allen I. Questrom, now chairman and ceo of Federated Department Stores, from Abraham & Straus to work with him at Bullock's as the home store general merchandise manager.

Noting the recent cutbacks in retailing, Aronson said, "The environment is not as inviting for mentor relationships. It is much more antiseptic."

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