NEW YORK — Bon-Ton Stores Inc. said chief executive officer Tim Grumbacher will resign from that position by the middle of next year, but will continue as chairman of the board.

Grumbacher, 63, became ceo in 2000 and has been chairman of the board since 1991. He’s been a member of the board since 1967, and also served as the company’s president from 1977 to 1989.

The York, Penn.-based department store chain, which acquired Elder-Beerman Stores Corp. in October, said the move is consistent with the company’s ongoing succession-planning process. Bon-Ton said it will consider both internal and external candidates, and that the board has formed a special committee of four directors, three of whom are independent, to conduct the search.

The Grumbacher family will continue to hold a controlling interest in the firm, Bon-Ton said. As of May 15, Grumbacher family holdings accrued 54.9 percent of the company’s common stock, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additionally, Tim Grumbacher held 98.7 percent of all class A shares, each of which are convertible into one share of common stock.

With the acquisition of Elder-Beerman, Bon-Ton expanded westward into the Midwest and now includes 142 department stores in 16 states.

Other members of the Bon-Ton management team include Frank Tworecke, president and chief operating officer; James Baireuther, vice chairman and chief administrative and financial officer, and Michael Gleim, vice chairman.

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