NEW YORK — For some of its fastest-growing, highest-margin businesses, Bergdorf Goodman has a new merchant: Ed Burstell, the former general manager and vice president of Henri Bendel.

On Monday, Burstell was named Bergdorf’s senior vice president and general merchandise manager for footwear, cosmetics, fine and fashion jewelry, handbags and soft accessories. He starts his new job on July 5.

Burstell basically succeeds Muriel Gonzalez, who in February joined Ann Taylor Stores Corp. as executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Gonzalez also handled Bergdorf’s home department, but that’s been taken over by Margaret Spaniola, the retailer’s gmm for men’s wear. Bergdorf’s third gmm is Ginny Hershey, senior vice president for women’s.

Burstell spent 16 years at Bendel’s, starting as a cosmetics buyer, rising to a divisional merchandise manager, then gmm and finally, general manager, responsible for all merchandising and store management functions.

Bendel’s has long been a struggling division of Limited Brands, but Burstell, who left the store in July 2004, succeeded in raising the retailer’s visibility. He did this by bringing designers and brands such as Diane von Furstenberg, Rick Owens, Nuala, Catherine Malandrino and Flight 001 to a business that had long had difficulty in attracting meaningful labels and was heavily dependent on private label merchandise. He also revamped the cosmetics floor, which became the store’s main attraction, with an array of niche brands and exclusives such as MAC, Laura Mercier, Benefit and Awake.

Prior to Bendel’s, Burstell was a cosmetics and lifestyle accessories buyer at Bloomingdale’s, and most recently has been a consultant to Hearst Corp. and Juicy Couture, which is creating a beauty division.

Compared with his role at Bendel’s, at Bergdorf’s, Burstell will have a narrower focus on product and merchandising, but for a much larger business, according to Jim Gold, president and chief executive officer of Bergdorf Goodman. The gmm’s all report to Gold.

“Shoes are the heart and soul of our store,” said Gold. “Our shoe floor [on two] has become an iconic place to shop.” Gold cited several key brands including Manolo Blahnik, Prada, Christian Laboutin, Gucci, Tod’s and Chanel. “The business is phenomenal, but we have significant plans for continued growth, particularly with the addition of contemporary shoes on five,” which opened about three months ago with about 50 percent more space than the old shop.

This story first appeared in the June 21, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“In accessories and handbags, we continue to grow the core business, but Ed has a keen ability to seek out new and exciting resources. That will apply to jewelry, as well.” With cosmetics, Gold said Bergdorf’s has an opportunity to add brands and “creative marketing ideas.”

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