By  on October 27, 2008

NEW YORK — Stein Mart Inc. has retained Korn/Ferry International to initiate a national search for a new chief executive officer following Linda Farthing’s decision to step down from the post.

Farthing, a director of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based retailer since 1999, took on the CEO role in August 2007 following the resignation of Michael Fisher. She will retain her seat on the board.

Farthing held executive posts with Friedman’s Inc. and Cato Corp. prior to her affiliation with Stein Mart.

“Linda took on the CEO role at a very difficult time and has worked tirelessly to move our company forward,” said Jay Stein, Stein Mart’s chairman. “We deeply appreciate all her efforts and know that her insights will continue to inform the board as we work to improve the business.”

In the first half of 2008, the company’s net loss totaled $1 million while sales dropped 6.1 percent to $663.8 million and same-store sales declined 9.5 percent.

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