NEW YORK — Jerald Politzer has joined the Filene’s Basement unit of Value City Department Stores as executive vice president of merchandising.

In this new post, Politzer reports to Heywood Wilansky, who, as reported, joined the 20-store, off-price retail chain as president and chief executive officer in February.

In an interview, Wilansky said that Politzer will play a "critical role" as Filene’s Basement repositions itself to focus more on better and designer apparel and distance itself from the moderate selections of TJX Cos., the nation’s largest off-price retailer of apparel.

"We’re gearing up for an expansion, moving more upscale and to the higher end of the off-price spectrum, into greater emphasis on better, bridge and designer," Wilansky said. "Having Jerry on board will definitely help us fulfill that mission."

Politzer’s entrance at the Woburn, Mass.-based Filene’s Basement marks his return to retailing after a six-year hiatus. Most recently, he was the ceo of Secure Connections, a firm that utilizes high technology to ensure the security of children; before that, he was managing director of business development at the executive search firm of Kirk Palmer & Associates.

He was chairman and ceo of Salant Corp., a men’s wear firm that is being acquired by Perry Ellis International, between 1997 and 1999 following seven years as executive vice president of Melville Corp., where, at various times, the Marshalls, Wilson’s Leather, Bob’s Stores and Thom McAn Shoes divisions had reported to him. Marshalls is now part of TJX.

Like Wilansky, Politzer spent much of his career working in department stores and was president and ceo of The May Department Stores Co.’s G. Fox & Co. division before moving to Melville. He and Wilansky’s careers overlapped at May Co.’s Hecht Co. unit.

Providing further details about a new Atlanta store he discussed at the time of his appointment as ceo, Wilansky said that the store, the 21st in the Filene’s Basement chain, will open May 22 with 49,000 square feet of space. He said the larger footprint is indicative of the direction FB will take with new stores as it looks to incorporate a "wider array of merchandise," including a greater representation of better goods."Most of our stores will be in the 40,000- to 50,000-square-foot range from here on in, and some will be even larger," he said, noting that most major competitors in the off-price arena tend to average about 30,000 square feet per store.

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