NEW YORK — Samuel Gerson, chairman and chief executive of Filene’s Basement from 1984 to 2000 and instrumental in expanding the chain and its famous “automatic markdown” feature from Boston to several other urban areas, died Saturday of a brain tumor. He was 61.

Gerson retired from the company after it was sold to Value City in 2000. The company had gone into bankruptcy the year before, but despite the rough going, most of Gerson’s tenure at the helm was marked by a steady and high-profile expansion to 55 locations and roughly $600 million in sales. It’s currently about half that size, in stores and volume.

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