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May Co. Ired by Offer Made to Foley’s Weikel

NEW YORK — There’s a fight at Foley’s and it’s over the former chairman, Mark J. Weikel.<br><br>Weikel has been offered a senior executive position at Victoria’s Secret Stores, reporting to Grace Nichols, the chief...

NEW YORK — There’s a fight at Foley’s and it’s over the former chairman, Mark J. Weikel.

Weikel has been offered a senior executive position at Victoria’s Secret Stores, reporting to Grace Nichols, the chief executive, and that’s got May Department Stores Co., parent of Foley’s, riled up.

May Co. removed Weikel from Foley’s and on Tuesday named Andrew T. Hall chairman. It could not be learned whether May Co. will try to sue Weikel for allegedly violating noncompete restrictions in his contract, which May Co. said runs through April 2005.

“We have made an offer and we do not believe it is any kind of violation,” said Anthony Hebron, a spokesman for Limited Brands, parent of Victoria’s Secret. “We do not believe May Co. or Foley’s is a competitor [to Victoria’s Secret Stores].”

Andrew P. Pickman continues as president and ceo of Foley’s, which operates 67 stores in five states and last year posted a volume of about $2 billion.

However, Sharon Bateman, a spokeswoman for May Co., said, “There is a dispute with [Weikel] with respect to his contract, and he is no longer serving as chairman.” It’s possible that May Co. will seek a temporary restraining order to block Weikel’s move to Victoria’s Secret, and then will sue Weikel for breach of noncompete contract, or The Limited for tortious interference. “The May Co. is litigious. They are big on noncompetes in St. Louis,” said one market observer. But May Co. also has a history of paying its executives well, helping to keep its executive turnover at lower rates than much of retailing.

Hall, 42, joined May in 1993 as director of financial reporting at the company’s corporate office in St. Louis, was promoted to senior positions at a few different divisions and last served as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Foley’s. Weikel is a veteran of the May Co.