Ross Stores, reorganizing its top management to gear up for growth and reward executives for strong performances this year, has unveiled a string of promotions.

This story first appeared in the December 8, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.


Barbara Rentler, 52, formerly executive vice president of merchandising of Ross Dress for Less, is now president and chief merchandising officer. A 23-year veteran of the company, Rentler continues to manage all apparel and apparel-related merchandising and adds the home business to her responsibilities.


James Fassio, 54, previously executive vice president for property development, construction and store design, has been named president and chief development officer. A 21-year veteran of the off-price retailer, he still oversees the real estate strategy including store development, construction and store design for both the Ross and dd’s Discounts divisions.


Michael O’Sullivan, 45, formerly executive vice president and chief administrative officer, has been elevated to president and chief operating officer, adding to his duties store operations including supply chain, information technology, strategy, finance, legal and human resources.


Rentler,  O’Sullivan and Fassio, along with Douglas Baker, executive vice president of  merchandising of dd’s, continue to report to Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and chief executive officer. With these promotions, Balmuth no longer holds the title of president.


Ross Stores is outpacing the industry, with comparable-store sales for the 10 months ended Nov. 28 up 5 percent and forecast up 6 to 7 percent in December and 4 to 5 percent in January.


In other executive changes, Lisa Panattoni, 47, formerly executive vice president, merchandising for Ross’ home business, was promoted to group executive vice president, adding men’s and children’s. Bernard Brautigan, 44, was promoted from senior vice president to executive vice president of  merchandising for misses better sportswear as well as shoes, accessories, jewelry, lingerie and ladies hosiery and Jennifer Vecchio, 44, was promoted from senior vice president to executive vice president of merchandising for East Coast men’s and children’s.


Three group vice president/divisional merchandise managers were elevated to senior vice presidents and general merchandise managers: Angela Culhane, 51, housewares, cosmetics and fragrances; Susanne DeMarco, 40, shoes, and Joyce Pearson, 63, dresses. Gregg McGillis, 53, formerly group vice president, has been promoted to senior vice president of  property development.


A spokeswoman said the promotions will help position the company for continued growth in addition to recognizing the individuals’ work. About 4 to 5 percent growth in square footage is seen for next year. She also said there were no departures. The $6.5 billion Ross Stores is the nation’s second largest off-price retailer. There are about 955 Ross Dress for Less stores and 53 dd’s Discounts. Ross sells branded and designer apparel, accessories, footwear and home fashions at 20 to 60 percent off, and dd’s sells more moderate-priced branded apparel, accessories, footwear and home at 20 to 70 percent off.

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