Robert Arthur Berry, a longtime retail executive whose career ranged from Neiman Marcus to Gucci, died of cancer on July 14 at his home in Phoenix, said his wife, Kay. He was 84.
This story first appeared in the July 22, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Berry graduated from Stanford University and received a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard before launching a 40-year career in the apparel and textile industries.
Berry began at Carter Hawley Hale Corp. in 1950, where he rose through the ranks to become a divisional merchandise manager of ready-to-wear. In 1964, he moved to Neiman Marcus as vice president responsible for rtw, sportswear, intimate apparel and cosmetics.
From 1969 to 1975, Berry was president and chief executive officer of Joseph Magnin, a San Francisco-based upscale chain of 48 stores with an annual volume of $80 million. He then moved to Wamsutta Mills/Home Products as president of the $225 million fabric and home furnishings company.
In 1981, Berry became president and ceo of New York-based Gucci Shops Inc., where he oversaw eight company-owned stores and 32 franchised units of the Italian luxury goods firm until he retired in the late Eighties.
Berry was a veteran of World War II, serving in the Army Air Corps as a fighter pilot. He was shot down over Germany and spent six months as a prisoner of war. He was a recipient of the Purple Heart.
In addition to his wife, Berry is survived by two daughters, Debbie Springer and Linda Berry, and two grandchildren.