Barbara Rentler, president and chief merchandising officer of Ross Stores Inc., will succeed Michael Balmuth as the firm’s chief executive officer on June 1.

This story first appeared in the May 8, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.


Balmuth, 63, currently vice chairman and ceo, will become executive chairman. Michael O’Sullivan, 50, will continue as president and chief operating officer and, along with Rentler, join the board of the Dublin, Calif.-based off-price retailer.


Additionally, Lisa Panattoni has been promoted to president, merchandising, from her current post as group executive vice president, and Bernard Brautigan has been named group executive vice president, also effective June 1. Panattoni will oversee Ross’ men’s, junior sportswear, lingerie and cosmetics businesses while Brautigan will be responsible for most of Ross’ women’s apparel business as well as children’s, shoes, accessories and jewelry. Both will report to Rentler.


Jim Fassio, president and chief development officer, and Doug Baker, president and chief merchandising officer of Ross’ dd’s Discounts division, will continue to report to Balmuth.


Norman Ferber, chairman since 1993, will become chairman emeritus and continue as a director, with George Orban continuing as lead independent director upon institution of the changes. Ross plans to recruit an additional independent director to its board.


Rentler joined Ross in 1986 and served as executive vice president of merchandising with responsibility for apparel and apparel-related products for three years prior to her promotion to president and chief merchandising officer in 2009.


O’Sullivan, a Bain & Co. alumnus, was executive vice president and chief administrative officer before his elevation to president and chief operating officer in 2009.


Balmuth, who joined Ross as senior vice president and general merchandising manager in 1989, has been ceo since 1996. Ferber commented, “During his tenure as ceo, we have profitably grown Ross Dress for Less into the largest off-price apparel and home fashion chain in the United States with 1,172 locations, while also successfully launching a new business, dd’s Discounts, with 137 stores.”


While smaller in geographic scope and sales volume, and bearing fewer nameplates, than its off-price competitor, The TJX Cos. Inc., Ross crossed the $10 billion sales milestone in 2013, with revenues up 5.2 percent to $10.23 billion. TJX, operators of the TJ Maxx and Marshalls, reported 2013 sales of $27.42 billion, a 6 percent increase, including operations in Canada and Europe.

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